Moving Toward An Open-Book Life
I value privacy. I value mine. I value yours. I feel like some things we have are simply our own and should not have to be shared with the world. Some things should not have to be shared with even your closest loved ones. Your thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and emotions are yours. It should be your choice if you want to share them or not. I, on a fundamental and deeply rooted level, have always felt this.
However, when I really think about it, my regard for privacy has not served me the way I expected or wanted. In some ways it has hurt me. To exercise privacy requires the active withholding of some information. The upside is you prevent people from judging your every nook and cranny. Get out of there! This is why diaries used to have locks. But there is a downside to being private. Inevitably, the private person allows room for others to implant or supplement a false reality about you, your feelings, your abilities and your intentions where there is a lack of information. While many times this may have no consequence on your life, in many ways I’ve found it to be detrimental in my life. Especially in my personal relationships.
I’ve been called mysterious, sneaky, someone with an agenda, up to something and the like just because I did not wish to disclose every aspect of my life. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I am not mysterious or sneaky or anything else. I’m just private. My thoughts are mine, my ideas are mine, my feelings are mine. Mine! Mine! Mine! I do not wish to share it all. What I do share I feel is enough of a representation of me that you can get to know the “who” of who I am. With the things that I don’t share, I am just simply more comfortable having an internal dialogue with myself about those things. I don’t want you to know. Mind your business!
But here’s the thing. I know I’m fighting a losing battle. Privacy in this world is becoming elusive if not yet non-existent. We are living in a world moving toward being an open-book society. Diaries don’t have locks anymore. People blog about their kids and their personal lives online (eh-hem). I know the intimate details of Paris Hilton’s sex life because reality-TV is so big. You’re seen as particularly suspicious if you don’t have a Facebook page. God forbid you don’t answer your cell phone within the first Jonas Brothers ringtone. People expect access to you at all times. Not to mention the government has established laws that allow them (and you) to rifle through my cyber garbage to find out who I texted, who I called, who I emailed, what I bought, what I viewed, where I traveled, who I was with and what that thing really was that was growing on my back from my formerly private medical records. With two, sometimes just one piece of information you can, sometimes for a small fee, find out almost everything you need to know about a person. Some of it true, some of it not.
Privacy as we once knew it is dead!
Today, I went back and reread part of Thomas Friedman’s book, The World Is Flat 3.0. Friedman writes in a section called “Flattener #9: In-Forming”,
“There is another side to in-forming that people are going to have to get used to, and that is other people’s ability to in-form themselves about you from a very early age. Search engines flatten the world by eliminating all the valleys and peaks, all the walls and rocks, that people used to hide inside of, atop, behind, or under in order to mask their reputations or parts of their past. In a flat world, you can’t run, you can’t hide, and smaller and smaller rocks are turned over. Live your life honestly, because whatever you do, whatever mistakes you make, will be searchable one day.”
This new reality that Friedman speaks of plus the fact that I have had enough situations where being private allowed people to draw false conclusions about me are two of the reasons that have lead me to start Big Piece of Chicken. In a searchable world, I’d rather promote the truth about me and reveal my own skeletons than to have someone else do it for me. Or worse yet, get my facts wrong. Really, I am still that private person wanting to tell you to mind your business. But I realize I live in an open-book world and privacy is met with suspicion.
But since the blog launched I have struggled with how un-private I can and should be. I have contemplated this question with myself. I was also affected by an unfortunate event that recently turned ugly in a personal relationship due to the blog. I have solicited the advice of E.Payne on the subject. I have read and contemplated Heather B. Armstrong’s views on revealing personal information. And I have reread Friedman’s book today. With all, I have come up with the following. Below is a doodle I did in my local ‘Bucks.
Basically it’s like this.
If I just give you tip of the iceberg stuff, you’ll be bored and I’ll be bored. Who cares. So what. Who cares what kind of toothpaste I used today. (Crest Pro-Health) I can give you more than that, just under the surface stuff, like my views on life. But you’ll get bored eventually and I’ll run out of things to say. I’m not going to tell you the things I wouldn’t tell my therapist. And I’m definitely not going to tell you the things that materialize from the Abyss of My Soul. That’s a place I want to pretend doesn’t exist.
But I think there is this middle space where I can be open-book and not feel like I’m giving away the farm. Although I am not comfortable in this area and still don’t know quite how to do it, I will try to operate there and at least in the other two top tiers of the “Iceberg of Me” both on this blog and in my personal life.
Don’t worry. If you’re reading this and I hold some dark secret of yours, I won’t be telling. But I may reveal some of my own. Let’s see if this more revealing me serves me better than the one who is so private.