Heather Havrilesky may be writing in this article about a show on the Science Fiction Channel, but her opening paragraphs speak to the idea that privacy is dead, a current cultural phenomenon (accepted as gospel) that is, I believe, really really bad.
“Mystery is a dying art. Holding on to your secrets during the digital revolution feels as antiquated and prudish as holding on to your virginity during the sexual revolution.
Not only is trying to keep your personal life private nearly impossible, but the whole concept of being a "private person" is patently outdated. What does it even mean? Not mentioning your tubal ligation on your Facebook page? Not tweeting about your disintegrating marriage?
Nothing is confidential anymore; those who'd like to pretend otherwise are greeted with suspicion and raised hackles. In an age when "community building" seems indelibly linked to casting your secrets into an unfathomable digital void, self-censorship can strike people as downright unneighborly. Information wants to be free, and no doubt about it, it's prepared to break your kneecaps and make a run for it if necessary.”
First, the obvious flaw with the analogy (and its not a bad one) as an argument in favor of giving up your privacy is that there are many people who either died of AIDS or live with HIV who wish they had remained virgins during the sexual revolution. There are probably a whole slew of others who wish they had (or had not) participated in the sexual revolution for a variety of reasons. Merely having a trend is not a reason to conform to it. Following lemmings off a cliff, no matter how many there are is not a recipe for success or survival.
Second, isn’t privacy to be valued? Does the Big Brother of the social networking universe need to know everything? Should everyone know everything? Does this breed responsibility or just fear? The problem with the cacophony of the Internet is that people might not speak for fear that what they say might not be popular. They might not do for fear that what they do might not be favored by the loudest and most vocal. Yet it is those who speak up, who do not fear to say the emporer has no clothes, who insist the earth is round and it revolves around the sun who may be drowned out by the masses and the lack of privacy.
As history would have it, those who berated and despised privacy, those who argued that your private thoughts and actions should be exposed (possibly to ridicule), those who live by the phrase “if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear,” are not exactly those whom I would characterize as the “good guys.” Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union, the Inquisition, Senator Joseph McCarthy, to name a few of the rogues gallery.
The mob does not like privacy. Lemmings do not like privacy. For now, I will try to keep what I have and fight for people’s rights to have theirs.