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  1. #1
    Senior Member velocity's Avatar
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    Default why do we need privacy?

    why do we have "public lives" and "private lives?" is it something about the way society is constructed (normative, so we play by the rules) and/or is there something about the very nature of the human animal to always have some part of itself hidden (to escape control, avoid judgment, or to wield power, etc)? does anyone here live a completely "open" life and has no problem talking about any action? is this a cultural construct? what are is the role of privacy in sociality? also, what are the roles/functions of secrets?

  2. #2
    Emerging Tallulah's Avatar
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    I don't know. I've always been a really private person, though. You don't get lots of details from me until I've known you for a while and feel safe with you. I've always really envied the "open book" people, but I know I can't be one.
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  3. #3
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Momentous

    Quote Originally Posted by velocity View Post
    why do we have "public lives" and "private lives?" is it something about the way society is constructed (normative, so we play by the rules) and/or is there something about the very nature of the human animal to always have some part of itself hidden (to escape control, avoid judgment, or to wield power, etc)? does anyone here live a completely "open" life and has no problem talking about any action? is this a cultural construct? what are is the role of privacy in sociality? also, what are the roles/functions of secrets?
    Privacy is only a recent invention. For 200,000 years we lived in earshot of one another in tribal vilages. But with the invention of the printing press in 1440, the dream of univeral literacy was born and has only been realised recently in the West and developed countries.

    And as you notice, we read a book alone, silently in private. In fact the carrels you find in your library are there to give us silence and privacy.

    But the invention of the electric telegraph in 1840 put an end to all that.

    For the electric telegraph led to the electric telephone, the electric radio, the electric television and the electric internet.

    Ask not for whom the phone rings, it rings for thee.

    And so the electric Typology tribe was born in the global village.

    We are now all in electric earshot of one another just like a tribe in a village.

    And privacy has come to an end. In fact the private bedroom has come to an end, as almost all of us here have the internet live in our 'private' bedrooms.

    But of course we drive forward looking in the rear vision mirror at privacy, while the global village rushes towards us through the windscreen.

    We can only see our private self through the rear vision mirror, but we can see the whole electronic tribe of Typology through the windscreen.

    And if you haven't noticed, the windscreen is the screen in front of us at this very moment.

    And it is momentous.

  4. #4

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    I believe a private realm is necessary to prevent totalitarianism, especially in a society which contains differing and disparite political and other identities co-existing side by side.

    I also think that it has to do with propriety, I do not believe in exhibitionism and I think a lot of contemporary social trends militate against this in a pretty insidious manner. Part of my own views about propriety are to do with not flaunting what you have in front of those who do not or can not or should not have the same things. I do not believe it is fear of approbation or disapproving judgement alone, that's the negative and what I described is the positive.

    Plus there are aspects to your life that you wont want to share with everyone, those are privileged for just a few and therefore again privacy becomes valuable in those connections and ties.

  5. #5
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    I remember a section of Jared Diamond's "The Third Chimpanzee" explained clearly how the need for a public-private split came by. It was related to reproduction; I will take a look at the book again later, and edit this post.
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  6. #6
    filling some space UnitOfPopulation's Avatar
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    We need privacy to keep seeecrets, eeewuhl seeecrets.
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  7. #7
    Courage is immortality Valiant's Avatar
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    Privacy is for us who need recharging when exhausted from social life.
    Privacy is also good for us who read a lot every day.
    Or we who play computer games. Programming. Inventing things. Artists, whether they be writers or painters.

    I'd seriously feel like killing myself if I didn't have privacy. I become easily irritated and weirdly unbalanced if I don't get to be alone with my books for at least a few hours a day, and that's a bare minimum.

    Mightier than the tread of marching armies is the power of an idea whose time has come

  8. #8
    failure to thrive AphroditeGoneAwry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by velocity View Post
    why do we have "public lives" and "private lives?" is it something about the way society is constructed (normative, so we play by the rules) and/or is there something about the very nature of the human animal to always have some part of itself hidden (to escape control, avoid judgment, or to wield power, etc)? does anyone here live a completely "open" life and has no problem talking about any action? is this a cultural construct? what are is the role of privacy in sociality? also, what are the roles/functions of secrets?
    Good question. If we look back, like Victor so eloquently stated, across time we see that humans lived in tribes and in tribes there was probably very little personal privacy within your small village. In fact, that was part and parcel how villages kept people in line and kept the peace, because as an intimate entity, the village made it harder to break rules and get away with it, and harder to be sneaky. There was more accountability.

    However, there probably was some sort of familial privacy that existed within one's private quarters, house, or domain. I have done limited study of ancient or even modern-day remote communities, but it seems that there is a cognizance about having to live peacefully in your small society, and not wanting to rock the boat. Also, in some peaceful societies, anger was frowned heavily upon. So, privacy about one's personal affairs or frustrations might have been the norm. I'm just purely speculating of course. I've heard that in Asian cultures, there is much more concern with having a modicum of neutrality and appearing happy and putting a nice face on when meeting people, being pleasant. But surely in private this type of Asian would need to vent his true feelings, which must sometimes at least be negative, to his trusted family and friends?

    I think most people tend to shun, or at least separate themselves, from completely 'open' people. I'm not sure why. Maybe a throwback to the fact that when you were completely different and didn't fit in, or didn't care how you were received or viewed, you were a liability, not an asset, to the tribe. I think we are as fascinated by completely OPEN people in our society as we are contemptuous of them, like a freaky carnival side show.

    And I think you are right. The concept of being an 'open book' might be a completely new construct of modern society.
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  9. #9

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    There's also the whole issue of age appropriate behaviour, any parent knows that there times when they need privacy from their children, if they arent aware enough of this they are likely to get a visit from the social services to remind them of this quick smart.

  10. #10
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    ...I always wondered what society would be like if we always knew exactly what everyone else was thinking.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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