Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shopping for a Right to Privacy

I went to our local Playhouse to buy tickets to a musical.  The first question out of the mouth of the box-office worker was, "What is your home phone number?"  He wanted my name, address, phone number, and email address.  Sometimes I think I can't shop anymore with out giving that much information, even for eggs and bread.  And I know it's not because I'm cute and they want to call me.

Walk with me down memory lane to 1970.  People all over the country were talking about a right to privacy.  Of course this meant that you could do whatever you wanted in the privacy of your own home (illicit drugs, perverse sex with consenting adults) and that your body was yours to do with what you will (kill your baby, commit suicide).  The greatest outside intrusion on our lives came from junk mail and unwanted radio and television commercials.

Now the right to privacy, which never existed in the first place, has been suborned to the right to be tracked for commercial purposes.  You no longer have a right to remain silent and everything you say, do, buy, watch, search for on the internet, and befriend on face-book can and will be used against your bank account by luring you into spending money you don't have.(After all, who really needs a snuggie?)

The right to privacy never existed in the first place because it is a natural road block to a healthy society.  Healthy communities have standards.  When those standards are violated, the whole community suffers.  Those who are exposed to pornography, illicit drugs and perversions in secret, are not exercising the right to privacy.  They are hiding the shame of the sinful behaviors which they know instinctively are wrong.  Shame and remorse are natural emotions in everyone but sociopaths.

Parents sometimes create a breeding pool for secretive behavior by allowing children to have unmonitored televisions and computers in their rooms.  Would Anthony Wiener have tweeted his smaller self if his wife or mother could have walked into the room at any moment?

Looking back to where this started, the right to privacy protects the drug-users, perverts and those who have habits they wish to keep secret, but invades the privacy of the average Midwestern mom looking to buy dog food at the local Petco.  Everywhere I go,  "Have you shopped with us before?  May I have your phone number?"  All I wanted was theater tickets for my Dad for Father's Day.  I don't want a long-term relationship with the local playhouse. Besides they are down the street about 2 blocks.  I can walk down and ask.

The irony is that everyone has my information, and I have nothing to hide.  Those who hide their information or troll the internet using false identities have everything to hide.  I want some privacy.  But the only way to get it back is to increase respect for others and encourage a broader sense of shame for those who practice illicit behaviors. You want privacy?  Stop asking for my information.  I'm sure this will destroy the jobs of marketers and data entry clerks around the country.  Given the oversexed, tawdry nature of most advertising, the marketing crowd won't understand this article anyway.

Respect for others and a healthy sense of shame...  Imagine how those could change our world.
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