Personal and Private Are Meaningless Now

Another in my “this just came up and inspired me” series.  Should we be concerned with our personal and private lives being mixed in with our public lives?

Thought 1

Why are we different people publicly and privately?  I guess this comes from the old saying “Who you are is what you do when no one is watching.”  Think about celebrities and politicians, they have very little private life and for the most part, no one cares.  Politicians lie, cheat, commit illegal acts all the time, it’s made totally public and no one cares.  Of course, I think that says more about their personal power than anything about normal people.

Everyone has secrets.  But it’s not a secret if anyone else knows.  It’s easy to keep a secret if two people know… and one of them is dead.  But since the person who knows your secret is probably your best friend and/or spouse, then it’s not considered within the realm of friendship to kill them.  And they will blab to someone… probably.

I try not to, but if you tell me something, be aware that my wife will probably know sooner or later.  But if you ask me to keep a secret, I do my best.

But our secrets, whatever they are, are secret for a reason. There are some good reasons.  There are some bad reasons.  But they are reasons for keeping a secret.  If you’re a homosexual and live in Alabama or Louisiana, then there’s a good reason to keep your sexual preferences a secret.  People have been known to be killed for that.  On the other hand, if your big secret is that you really hate football (again, except in Louisiana or Alabama), then no one is going to kill you.  They might think you’re weird, but probably not as weird as uncle Hank.

Yes, there are certain secrets that we all keep.  But if they are that secret, then they shouldn’t see the light of day anyway.  Certainly, sure as hell, not be blabbed about on the internet.

Thought 2

What ever you say or do will get out.  If you publicly say or do something, then it will get out.  It’s OK to have a drink at the office party.  It’s not so OK to get roaring drunk and do a strip tease on the copy machine.  Anything that potentially happens in public WILL be posted to the internet.

Will this stuff that happened at a bar, when you were 19 have an impact on your current life as a respectable 38-year-old company manager?  It SHOULDN’T.

But you have to realize that 90% of the population of this country still has the mental maturity of a 6th grader.  The simple fact that The Simpsons went 17 odd seasons is sufficient evidence.  These are people who laugh at fart jokes.  These are people who think a film should be so chaotic as to render linear thought impossible.

And these are the people who spend thousands of hours searching for people they know on the internet to make fun of.  It is sad, but true.

So, yes, everything that is public or becomes public about you has the potential to impact your life… even though it shouldn’t.

Here’s another demographic that, unfortunately, controls a vast chunk of this country.  The fundamentalist Christian.  Even the calmest and friendly of these types will sneer when the picture of the butterfly on your ass gets posted to the internet.  Did you forget the time you went to a Halloween party with your girlfriend as a dominatrix and you as her toy?  These people will NEVER forget that and that single image of you is all they will ever see… which really implies that they need to get out more, but I digress.

Thought 3

The internet is vast.  According to Cisco Systems, something like 10 million minutes of video will be streaming on the internet every second by 2015.  In other words, if you captured and played every bit (get it? bit?  nevermind) of video data in over one second, it would take you 190 years to watch it all.

That should give you a little piece of mind.  Honestly, unless you are a politician, a celebrity, or just stunningly hot, then 99.9999% of the population will ignore you because you are SO boring.  No one else cares, except a few friends and family…

Of course, those are the ones you really don’t want finding out about your secret obsession with vegetable peelers.

On the other hand, all bets are off if you do something so mind bogglingly nuts that you become an internet sensation.  It’s like Americas Funniest Home Videos, except it gets shared and networked and blogged about until you fifteen minutes of fame are up.  Then you go back to being nobody.  Except of course to those few coworkers who look at you with naked lust or like they are going to buy you a nice white jacket with sleeves in the back.

Thought 4

It doesn’t matter what you do.  With the possible exception of living in a third-world country or never leaving your home again… you have to go out.  The sheer ubiquity of cell phone cameras, web cams, security monitors, etc means that there is probably thousands of minutes of you on video in places you never thought about.

The security guy in the super-market has video of you scratching your ass on aisle 9.  But except for a giggle (he’s seen it a million times), he’s too busy watching the blond in the miniskirt bend over to get the beer (he’s saved that one to his private file).

This is a combination of all the above.  Things you think are private (or at least pseudo-private) are not.  You are all over everywhere.  The sheer number of cameras means that no one will probably ever notice when you tripped on the penny in the parking lot.  And even if they did see it… they don’t care.

However, all that being said, there are still things that shouldn’t be discussed.  If you are at an after hours office party, then the managers, VPs, etc, should EXPECT people to let their hair down a little.  They were the ones who came up with the cash bar at the office party, they bloody well need to understand that people are going to use it.

What matters is the work.  Is the job done?  On time?  Correctly?  Then what the hell else matters?  Who cares if the guy doing the work is a closet creationist?  Now, if he’s harassing the other employees, that’s a totally different animal.

People are paid, in their jobs, for accomplishing a task.  Provided that they meet the requirements of the company and do the job, then what difference does anything else make?  None.

Except that there are a bunch of immature people and fundamentalists and ‘I’m better than you’ type of people all over the place.  From your kids school all the way to the White House.  Those personal things do matter to them because they think it matters to you.  And they can control you more effectively that way.

If you are scared to talk at work about how rough the work is, then no one is going to fix it.  Of course, the bosses may want it that way, or the company may be in rough shape.

If you are scared to stand up to politicians who are trying to take away your rights, then they do control you.  They can make new laws to do whatever they want and you won’t do a thing about it.

Everyone has a personal life, but the boundary between personal/private and public are blurring radically right now.  Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Myspace, and all the other social networking sites are both a boon and a curse.  I just about only talk to my best friend in the whole universe on Facebook.  But I have managers on my Facebook and I’ve flatly refused some of my family on Facebook.

Do I have to be careful?  I’m pretty careful anyway.  Plus, by now, with all the political posting, most everyone has muted my feed anyway, so I’m just another faceless mass on their friend list.

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