Commentary: Some lessons from Anthony Weiner's fall

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner's decision to resign from Congress was overdue, given his repeated lies and his confessions that he had sent lewd photos and messages online, some after his marriage. He profusely apologized, again, though it seems all so hollow now.

The whole episode – the R-rated images, his meltdown press conference last week, the interviews with the women involved – was a tawdry distraction from the serious business that Americans expect Washington to do.

While the sexting scandal was largely about Weiner's personal demons, it did prompt a useful conversation about morality in a digital age.

Can you cheat on your spouse if you never meet the other man or woman face to face? Is it infidelity if there's only an exchange of suggestive photos, or flirty messages?

As long as there has been marriage, there has always been adultery. Many of us do some really stupid things in our personal lives.

But technology – and now the surge in social networking – makes it easier to be reckless.

Nearly half of U.S. adults say they use social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, up from 26 percent in 2008, according to a survey coincidentally released Thursday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

In that online world, sexting is more prevalent than many might believe or wish. In a May 2010 survey by the Pew project, 15 percent of adults said they had received "a sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photo or video" and 6 percent said they had sent one. The numbers are even higher among younger Americans.

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