EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 18, 2012

Column: There’s no privacy on the Internet

A good sex scandal always has something to teach us. Usually, what we learn in kindergarten: “Keep your hands to yourself.” And the one affecting our top military leaders is no exception. Will we learn that there is no such thing as privacy on the Internet? Apparently not.

But the relationship between Jill Kelley, 37, a Tampa, Fla., socialite who seems to have socialized largely on borrowed money that the lenders now want back, Marine Gen. John Allen, 58, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has an especially instructive lesson: time management.

Quoting supporters of Allen, The Washington Post said, “The problem is, his allies said, is that Kelley was a prolific emailer. And so is Allen.”

Prolific doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Accounts of the affair say that the two exchanged something like 20,000 to 30,000 emails, certainly enough to cover James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” the “Odyssey” on which it was based and Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.”

In short, the two generated a lot of reading material. If they emailed each other for two years, according to some accounts, that’s 5,000 to 7,500 emails each per year per correspondent, about 14 emails a day at the low end, 20 at the upper end. If the correspondence lasted four years, according to other accounts, that’s still a production rate of 7 to 10 emails a day.

And these are people who had their hands full with paperwork. The military generates tons of forms that have to be filled out and socialites are constantly drafting bread-and-butter notes.

The Wall Street Journal speculates that that large volume could be due to the email system generating multiple copies — “as replies piled up on replies in various email chains” — a development that’s hardly good news to people hoping to conduct a surreptitious online romance.

So far, the most salacious thing said about the emails was that they were sometimes “flirtatious” or — and here’s a whole new literary category — “potentially inappropriate,” whatever that means. (”Hey, you guys! What’s say we go out and spray paint some potentially inappropriate graffiti on abandoned warehouses?”)

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Helium debate
Political News