Meet Jack Fischl, globetrotter, feminist, and PolicyMic's exceptional pundit of the week. As part of our "pundit of the week" blog, we feature one knockout PolicyMic-er to share personal experiences with our community, and pose one never-been-asked question to a staff member.
About Jack: Jack is co-founder at Keteka - an online community-based adventure travel guide that leverages the Peace Corps network to promote underdeveloped communities as tourist destinations around the world. He served in Peace Corps Panamá from 2010-2012, developing sustainable tourism in an indigenous Ngäbe community, and dodging large sticks being thrown at him. The son of a diplomat, Jack has lived 13 years of his life overseas and traveled extensively, resulting in a dangerously insatiable wanderlust that he channels through his travel guide and his writing.
Caira Conner (CC): First things first, when and why did you decide to join PolicyMic?
Jack Fischl (JF): One of PolicyMic’s co-founders, Kyle Wiggins, recruited me while we were serving in the Peace Corps together during PolicyMic's early days at the beginning of 2011. He showed me some surprising stats that said millennials consumed most of the content on the internet but contributed very little of it – I wanted to be part of changing that.
CC: You recently served 2 years in the Peace Corps in Panama. Would you advocate to like-minded millennials to do the same? What particular things do you (or do you not) miss about your experience?
JF: I would definitely recommend like-minded millennials to do the same, provided they realize that they are not going to save the world and that it is sincerely and extremely difficult to serve. I’d recommend having several personal goals you want out of the experience, besides just “helping people,” because you’ll need those goals to fall back on when it gets tough.
I miss the people I worked and lived with – they made it fun, frustrating, and unforgettable. I don’t miss wearing smelly clothes that were never fully dry seven months out of the year.
CC: You've written a number of articles for our feminism section. Unfortunately, a man writing about feminism is still somewhat atypical. Any thoughts on how PolicyMic can attract a diversity of writers to cover gender/sexuality/feminism?
JF: It’s strange to me that feminism is a social justice issue that we perceive as “reserved” for women. Whites supported black civil rights in the 1960s and plenty of heterosexuals support LGBT rights, but we seem to view “male feminist” as a contradiction. I think feminism can be manly and PolicyMic could try advertising it as such to attract more men.
I also think that a lot of men don’t realize how important these issues are for them because they don’t always perceive the indirect effects that, for example, gender inequality, can have on our country. Humans are inherently selfish, so maybe more articles on how feminist issues are negatively affecting men might help rally the boys.
CC: What's the most challenging aspect of your user experience with PolicyMic?
JF: I’ve noticed that over the past year, certain topics have become almost third rail on PolicyMic. Any mention of guns or taxes in an article essentially results in a Comments section assault. PolicyMic is about intellectual, balanced debate, and I feel like a few users change the tone in the Comments of articles on these topics from debate to nasty,personal attacks. I like PolicyMic precisely because of its innovative Comments section (compare to, say, YouTube). The editors do what they can to respond to flagged comments, but I hope some of my fellow Pundits can clean up their act enough to never say something like “Clearly, you’re a baby-punching communist moron” – it kills worthwhile debate and undermines the goals of the website.
CC: What is the best possible thing that could result from your using PolicyMic as a platform?
Someone becomes such a fan of my writing that they decide to pay me disgusting sums of money to write nothing but a weekly op-ed column. Then I could spend every day either traveling, writing, or watching zombie movies in my boxers.
Let's go offline. What do you like to do when you're not PolicyMic-in'?
Starting a company is exactly as much work as advertised, so Keteka keeps me pretty busy. For enjoyment, I play and watch sports and have asinine conversations over beers with friends about “The Top Five Guitar Solos of All Time” and stuff like that. Not a productive use of time, but I enjoy it.
Your turn. What's one question you have for a member of our staff?
JF: My question is for Mike Luciano. Can you shed some light on why Policymic won't stop publishing articles about the next presidential election? Last time I checked, it’s not for another 3 years and at this point, I don’t care who the GOP front-runner is or whether or not Hillary will run.
Mike Luciano: Given all the time and effort the whole PolicyMic team put in during the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, we could use a few years off ourselves before having to do it all over again.
However, quite a few people are already looking ahead to 2016, so that means Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, etc., are being searched. While some on the PolicyMic staff might not personally care right now about that race, many readers do. And if we didn't feature these stories, we wouldn't be doing our job, which is to inform readers and give them the kind of smart analyses they're looking for. I suspect that things have calmed down on this front, which is to be expected since 2016-related searches spiked right after the last election.
CC: Jack, you're amazing. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful perspectives with the PolicyMic community.
For more news on Jack, follow him on Twitter: @JackFischl