Governor Jon Corzine is a wimp

Sep 9 2007

This is kind of old news - but I've been away for much of the summer and its been bugging me.

Back in early July, Jon Corzine, governor of New Jersey quit email. He announced that it was easier and safer to go offline. This decision came after state Republicans tried to force him to hand over his email correspondence with a powerful union president - who happened to be a former romantic interest.

Now for many email addicts I might view this kind of cold turkey quitting with respect and admiration. As with any addiction it takes great courage to quit and even more to discuss ones affliction publicly.

However, it turns out that Governor Corzine is no internet addict - he's just a technophobe and a wimp who gives the impression of trying to cover something up.

"We'll go back to the 1920s, and have direct conversations with people," Mr. Corzine said.

That's quaint and kind of romantic - but as a leader and role model of the 21st century this is the statement of a man with his head in the sand.

Email is not easy. People make mistakes, big grave mistakes, on it every day. These mistakes cause misunderstandings, embarrassment, legal problems, etc. etc. We are all still figuring out the rules.

But Email is also wonderful, fun and funny. It squashes time and distance allowing unprecedented quantities and novel forms of communication.

Its also profoundly democratic. Email breaks down walls of who can talk to who. And particularly for those we elect into office, there is an electronic record to keep people honest.

Email (along with text messaging and instant messaging) is the predominant form of communication of both our global economy and the youth in our society. To "quit email" is simply to be out of touch.

This seems like a missed opportunity. Instead of giving up, Governor Corzine might have set out to educate himself on best practices for online communication. A savvy and forward-looking leader might go even farther and consider how digital communication might be incorporated to public school curricula in the same way that handwriting, typing, etc were once introduced.

Email isn't right for every situation, but its not going away.


In a similar move, at the beginning of his presidency GWB also swore off email for fear of compromising his own privacy - he's smarter than he looks ...