what are you hiding?
I guess the best example of privacy as an issue is in the news right now. after the underwear bomb incident on christmas day the news seems to be all in an uproar about these imaging machines that can see through anything and everything that you are wearing. this sounds all well and good except that they are not in use because of “privacy concerns.” now I am most certainly not going to get into that debate now because I am more interested in the issue of privacy.
the place where this is of course the biggest concern of the common person is the internet. yes there are cases of identity theft and yes it is probably easier to have your credit card stolen now than it used to be. this of course is not the fault of the internet but mostly the person in question. you wouldn’t give your card to a sketchy looking clerk and let him disappear for a few moments with it and the same goes on the internet. people assume they are safe and that there are no consequences for their actions.
more to the point is that there is no more or less privacy now than there was before. people are just acting flat out stupid. last year I completed my education degree and I think the horse the was beaten the most in those classes was the discussion about privacy and what you could put on places like facebook and how people deserved to get a break from being a teacher and cut loose. to this I laugh and say that you have admitted your own problem, you want to be two different people without having the two lives cross paths.
traditionally when one’s integrity was compromised all that was required to start over was simply packing up and moving to a new community. the problem today is that there are no “new” communities. advances in modern technology have eradicated the borders that traditionally kept your secrets in geographic locations. in those older small communities there was no such thing as privacy, everyone knew everything about everyone else around. now we have removed geographic barriers and suddenly we expect different things to happen, like privacy and dual lives.
what I suggest for most is simply coming to terms with no expectation of privacy. sure it’s a “right” but that doesn’t mean anything if it never existed to begin with. instead of worrying about what you do people should take responsibility for their actions and deal with the reactions. not everyone will agree with all of your actions but in the long run people will respect your honesty and the integrity with which you lead your life. the idea of secrets that would “change how someone thinks of me” goes away because you have no secrets or regrets, just respect that was earned by owning what you do.
as an example of how little privacy one has I will share a small story. early in the fall a young lady dropped a piece of paper on my table while I was visiting a local food establishment. upon that paper was a name, a phone number, and an invitation to communicate her. before the end of that I knew who she was, where she was from, how old, family ties, schooling from a couple of clever searches on the internet. simply put privacy doesn’t exist and we are deluding ourselves when we suggest otherwise.
this past summer an author for wired magazine tried to disappear and start a new life for 30 days and I highly recommend reading his article detailing the experience he had as it has made me think a lot about privacy and even ideas of identity.
congratulations for making it to the end, this turned out to be much longer than I expected so I look forward to hearing comments from those of you that agree and especially from those that disagree.