The Price of Privacy

Facebook users, new and old, should bear in mind that every post you make is most likely cc’ed to someone’s email. So even if you delete your comment, the copy will still remain in your friend’s email account. Someone made the excellent comment that alumni of St. John’s have a great deal in common even if they have never met, and should therefore others who have experienced “The Great Books Program.”

Just add everyone! What have you got to lose? Chances are that 90% will only read or post occasionally. If you find someone annoying, you can de-friend them. It’s easier to add them and look over what they post than to write them and ask how it is that they know you. What, if I tell you I was the kid who hit you with a spitball in cafeteria in the 5th grade you are going to suddenly add me? Live dangerously! Alfred Adler said that most people make the mistake of taking too few chances in life.

One reader comments:
But just maybe I don’t want strangers, or at least relative strangers, reading what I post. My laundy has been aired publicly enough in the past, I’d like to keep my private public life limited in this way that I choose.

I reply:
Quite true! Those who value privacy have various options open to them. They can choose the extreme of having NO internet, no television, no phone (or at least no answering machine). Once you are on line with email and social networking accounts, you always face the remove possibility of being hacked. Look at all the cases in news … where corporate emails and twitter build up some kind case in the courts or the tabloids. Facebook sounds like it is moving in the direction of greater control about who reads what. But then, simple email in business can be risky. I have often had to send very sensitive information, and I check the recipient address several times, and attachments, just for fear that I have made some error, because once I CLICK, I cannot take it back. In WordPress, you can place a password on a particular blog, and only friends who know the password can read it. Of course, if they start passing the password around, than many can read it. There is also the private journal/diary post which only YOU or someone who has your password can read. I have developed certain habits over the year as to what I will and will not say in writing and how I say it. Lincoln supposedly said “I have no problem keeping a secret, it is only some of my FRIENDS who have a problem.” If you make a rule that you will only post what you would feel comfortable having anyone and everyone read, then you can make your pages totally public.

I suppose there are some things that one should say only to a therapist, or clergy, or a lawyer, and hope that the rules of confidentiality will apply. Everyone has some kind of “dirty laundry” in their life or past. Journaling or writing, whether with pen and paper, or computer, can be quite therapeutic even if no one ever reads it. Many therapists, like David Viscott (see Viscott’s Method of self therapy) have their patients write long letters to some deceased parent, where they try to say all the things that bothered them, and put it into words. Everything is a trade-off. If you maximize privacy to the extreme, you enjoy absolute privacy, but you pay the price of having very few friends who know you intimately. And you can never trust anyone to be totally discrete with what you confide. Being on-line since 1998 has given me the chance to make intimate friendships with a teacher in Mangalore, South India, a doctor in Tehran, a soldier in Singapore, and an amateur poet in North Carolina, as well as a woman in her late 20s in California who has suffered since childhood from manic depression, bulimia and suicidal thoughts. All of us know each others thoughts and experiences inside and out. We feel a platonic love and affection for one another. I wouldnt trade them or the experiences we shared for anything. The extreme of privacy would be to run away from home as a child (so our parents no nothing of us), never marry, never date, never have children, speak as little as possible to others, and stay in ones room. But then, what would we have to be private ABOUT, since our lives would be an empty void, a zero. Aristotle said “the unexamined life is not worth living” but David Viscott retorted “the unlived life is not worth examining.”

I suppose there are some things that one should say only to a therapist, or clergy, or a lawyer, and hope that the rules of confidentiality will apply. Everyone has some kind of “dirty laundry” in their life or past. Journaling or writing, whether with pen and paper, or computer, can be quite therapeutic even if no one ever reads it. Many … See Moretherapists, like David Viscott (see Viscott’s Method of self therapy) have their patients write long letters to some deceased parent, where they try to say all the things that bothered them, and put it into words. Everything is a trade-off. If you maximize privacy to the extreme, you enjoy absolute privacy, but you pay the price of having very few friends who know you intimately. And you can never trust anyone to be totally discrete with what you confide. Being on-line since 1998 has given me the chance to make intimate friendships with a teacher in Mangalore, South India, a doctor in Tehran, a soldier in Singapore, and an amateur poet in North Carolina, as well as a woman in her late 20s in California who has suffered since childhood from manic depression, bulimia and suicidal thoughts. All of us know each others thoughts and experiences inside and out. We feel a platonic love and affection for one another. I wouldn’t trade them or the experiences we shared for anything. The extreme of privacy would be to run away from home as a child (so our parents no nothing of us), never marry, never date, never have children, speak as little as possible to others, and stay in ones room. But then, what would we have to be private ABOUT, since our lives would be an empty void, a zero. Aristotle said “the unexamined life is not worth living” but David Viscott retorted “the unlived life is not worth examining.”

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