Ha! A play on words! It’s so clever, I amaze myself with my cleverne-no, not really, but it does foreshadow my thoughts for this week. So let me start with a question:
Do you hide yourself from anyone?
It’s a serious question. Do you hide yourself from anyone? If I’m being a little too vague, there’s a reason for that. While the question is serious, the intent behind it is deceptive. See, it’s kind of a trick question; it’s a serious trick question. Befuddled? Of course, but I’ve only begun. You see, if you took that question seriously, then the answer is yes, you do hide yourself from someone, because the matter of your privacy is a serious one. Still confused? Okay, look at it this way: This growing generation, the one in school, the one looking ahead to the future as theirs draws nigh, the ones who will take the mantle of leadership someday, that generation will not accept privacy as we now understand it. We, as the millennial generation, and Generation Y, we see privacy as a bastion of freedom; a wall that protects us from the all seeing eye that is our government, our employer, our families, that guy who sits in a coffee shop who never orders anything; it’s our layer of security and freedom. We can be ourselves behind that wall, our public face is no longer necessary.
That generation will not take seriously the need for a public face, and the generation that comes after them, won’t even know what it is. Even now, as they begin their lives on Facebook, they share so many parts of themselves with everyone. You and I may see that as foolish, but that generation won’t even think twice about it. For myself, it is something that both intrigues me and terrifies me at the same time, like a naked woman carrying a samurai sword. I’m not quite sure what to expect from such a combination, but I know it could either be fantastic, or dangerous. Maybe both.
I have to say that I still stand on the side of privacy, and have quite a bit of trepidation about what may come, but I also hope that what we do end up getting is a combination of the two: I want to see human beings share freely what is important to them, and at the same time, keep personal what they feel they must, but only because they want to, not because they need to. I would like to see the day when one does not fear personal secrets getting out. We need privacy such as this now because what we’re seeing, what we’re sharing, is still too new for us. Facebook, as it is, has been around for less than a decade, and so we continue to explore the world of openness, of saying out loud how you feel and others seeing it; that your words may touch someone on the other side of the globe. When Gutenberg invented the printing press back in the 15th century, the mass production of the written word became not only possible, but affordable and prolific. Today we have instant electronic publishing. It’s like the written word given superpowers, and those words can cause great good, or great harm.
The truth be known, however, most words fall somewhere in the middle, neither causing great harm, or great good on a global scale, but accomplishing much on the local, personal level. Because of this, new avenues opened up; where you may not have known the political views of your brother, sister, father, mother, best friend, some 20 years ago, now not only do you know, but you also know how they feel on each individual issue, and you can go back and read it anytime you want, without waiting for a publisher, or even leaving your computer. It’s all right there for all to see, and as we see our global connectivity explode exponentially, everyone now has access to what your friend says and feels. So with it, the concept of privacy has taken a massive hit. Still, it has its place, as sometimes your views conflict with those of your friends and family, and so you hide them away, letting your close friends know, but keeping your family in the dark. You might even feel bad doing that, even though you shouldn’t.
Still, those feelings are eroding for Generation Y, and the Millennials (it’s not a band, dammit), and for the next generation, they will be significantly diminished. The generation after that? Gone, because those thoughts won’t be hidden. They’ll be out there for all to see. Now, that’s not to say that privacy will be gone from the world, but with our current trend growing, there will be a lot less of it, but there will be little hue and cry over it; it will be expected, embraced, maybe even considered superior to how we view privacy today. Will that generation be enlightened or foolish? I would say it depends on where you find yourself in that timeline, and whether you can adapt to the new tenets of our ever changing technology and our social mores. It should be interesting, of that I have no doubt.
Until next time, love one another, and be kind to one another.