Alert readers of FISpace will have noticed that a post I did last week about some blogger supposedly raising money for breast cancer with a “boobie-thon” (women send in pictures of their, ah, anatomy, men send in pics of pecs, and others send in money) is gone. The thing is, I had a discussion with someone at the home office about the possibility that somebody might e-mail the post (which had a lindk to the “b-t” blog) to someone who might forward it to someone else and it might end up in the hands of the media (you know, the “mainstream” or “old” media) and they might think the ACS endorsed the idea. I understand the concern and deleted the post with no objection.
But I would like to put out a few thoughts that were on my mind (other than boobies) when I did the post.
A lot of what I like to point out and discuss in FISpace is the changing parameters of our culture that are a concomitant of the use of new technologies, especially technologies of communication. I’ve posted several messages about blogs, most recently about the impact of blogs on the political process.
In my perception cyberspace and particularly the blog-o-sphere is an emergent environment that’s taking human exposure to a whole new level in oh so many ways. The internet has been, from its beginning, a heterogeneous medium in which people could have their own slim channel of communication to the world and with it, often under the cover of pseudonyms, express their opinions, feelings, and fetishes with a candor not seen in society before. They do it for shock, for therapy, for attention, to make a statement about the human condition and for other reasons. The amazing thing the internet has shown is that, seemingly no matter how outrageous your position, there are others who share it. For many the net is a shop of horrors; for others it is a liberating environment for expression.
So the boobie-thon (even if it is legit) is not for everybody, and it certainly is not for the ACS. But perhaps it is the thing that gets some segment to cough up $5 or $10. And that’s the thing about the net: it’s the ultimate niche market medium, not a mass medium. Was I thinking it was a model for ACS? Of course not. Was I incensed by it? No.
My overall, ongoing thought-question is: What is the place of the Society on the internet? No doubt we’re a good, credible source of information at cancer.org, but what about the culture, the emerging ethos of the net? Cable TV gets awards with shows like “Sex and the City” and Howard Stern moves to digital radio. Meanwhile the public broadcast channels can’t win awards and steadily lose market share. Cable has brought us, in the opinion of many, bad-taste reality TV, and I anticipate that the internet will take exposure to an all new level.
While most people associated with ACS would find the boobie-thon unacceptable others people might not. Over the weekend I saw a local news segment about a breast cancer fundraiser featuring gourmet food and bowling. The sponsors—one being the owner of a restaurant—held the fundraiser in a bowling alley because they found the standard cancer fundraiser with its lecture about the risk of breast cancer and a moving story from a breast cancer survivor “boring and somber.”
I doubt the word “boobie” will ever appear in any ACS context save FISpace. But things change. When I came to work at the Society 30+ years ago there was a big flap going on because one of our volunteers had the audacity to stand up in front of women and demonstrate BSE by touching her own breasts over her clothes. To some that was very inappropriate. We’ve come a long ways, so you never know.