Oct 13, 2004

Actually private thoughts

It has been noted in the past that I seem to be a less private person than…well ...many or most. More than one person has commented on this, at least in passing.
I do not find this surprising, but I do not necessarily agree, either.
It dawned on me, as I was thinking about this, though, that I DO, indeed, type personal and revealing information for the world to see and that I am apt to share thoughts many people are apt to keep secret or consider taboo with my close friends, as well.
But…I pondered, does this make me a less private person?
Webster’s defines “private” as: reserved and secretive, preferring not to disclose personal information or to discuss personal feelings with others.
To be sure, by this definition, I am absolutely not a very private person.
However, they also define private simply as: not for public knowledge.
I suppose, as I have many less barriers than a great many that I am less “private” than a great many. I am certainly not reticent with my emotions.
But by very definition of privacy, I would say that I keep a great many things private that others do not. There are things, different things I consider not appropriate for public knowledge.

For example, I try not to put other's names on my website or obviously identifying information in most circumstances, and feel a little weird when I see my own true first name in print. I understand it’s acceptable and don’t resent it when I find my true first name on a friends site, but it still gives me pause. And I try not to use personal experiences without broader context or literary merit. I try not to express my feeling for another on my blog: be it anger or love or apathy, at least not transparently. I consider this an invasion of privacy, my own and others. Likewise there are thoughts and doubts and emotions that never see the light of day for most, and are most certainly, by my definition, private. I do not, in short, keep my diary online.

Same with images. I remember the first time I saw my picture online. A friend had posted pictures of her party. In the pictures I was fully clothed and not doing anything that would cause concern. It was a public moment, of sorts. However, I immediately had this sense of my privacy being violated. To this day, if I see a picture of me, first, online, before someone shows it to me directly, or if it is posted without my explicit connivance I get this sense of beingexposed that certainly challenges my sense of being a private citizen. Yes, I know I am a subject in these pictures, and yes, I know it is their picture, but still… it's me, there, for others to see.
So, in the end I just suspect privacy is just about showing people what you want to show them, and hiding what you want to hide. And what you choose to share is your discretion. Some people have a very short list, some people very long, but I suspect everyone has things they wish to keep close to the chest, under wraps, and most certainly private.

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