Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Privacy buff

I like my privacy, I like to keep a few things to myself. I'm not one of those people happy to live in the public gaze and share every intimate detail with others.

There are plenty of things I just don't want to reveal to all and sundry - because they're too embarrassing or distasteful or weird or puzzling or upsetting. I don't want to share the ins and outs of my sex life, the stupid mistakes of my youth, my peculiar obsessions or unsuitable crushes.

If something's embarrassing or upsetting, I don't think it necessarily helps to tell every Tom, Dick and Harriet. It might make it easier to deal with, but it might make it worse and magnify it a hundred times.

But there are loads of people who have no problem baring their souls to the world, or even relish it. I'm always open-mouthed as celebrities, or just ordinary individuals, appear on TV answering the most personal and intrusive questions as if they were nothing unusual, spilling out shocking and painful facts as if they were passing on a recipe.

In a few seconds, the whole country knows they've had three abortions, or used to be a chronic shoplifter, or only enjoy sex if they're bound and gagged. I'm just amazed at the total lack of inhibition, the belief that anything at all is suitable for the public domain, that there is nothing that needs to be held back.

I think some people can only see their actions as normal if they've revealed them to everyone else. They feel it's wrong to keep something secret, as if that makes it somehow odd or shameful. Whether others approve or disapprove doesn't really matter as long as it's out in the open and common knowledge.

The idea of "airing your dirty washing in public" used to fill people with horror as something extremely vulgar and unhelpful, but now it's totally acceptable and even encouraged as healthy openness. But personally I still think some things are better left unsaid.


  1. I couldn't agree more! It's not only an issue for the person telling.. but the person being told as well. Those who spew out all sorts of private information leave us unable to respond comfortably.

    I wish there would be a return to dignity. Really. Kreng Jai. It needs to be a worldwide custom.

  2. Good point, Chani, the person being told can find all these dramatic confessions very hard to deal with. Had to look up Kreng Jai which I gather is a Thai word meaning (roughly) consideration. Yes, consideration for the person on the receiving end would be wise sometimes.

  3. It's one thing to divluge a bunch of shocking details about yourself but it does make me cringe to read people giving out the secrets of others close to them.

  4. Another good point, Medbh, blurting out other people's secrets knowing full well it'll embarrass and distress them is pretty crass. If they do it often, they're not going to have many friends left either.

  5. I am also baffled by some of the extremely personal questions that people ask in interviews. Makes me squirm.
    In my experience those that are very open about their sex life are usually less forthcoming about their emotions and private thoughts.

  6. It’s interesting how questions have become more personal. Michael Parkinson has been asking more and more intimate questions on his show and some of the guests have been visibly squirming at them. Some have actually got angry and asked him how he has the nerve to ask such things.

  7. Have you watched the interview with him and Meg Ryan - I had read about how difficult she was in it but after I watched it (on you tuve)it was him I was appalled at. He had no respect for her and was horribly rude.

  8. Yes, that was the one I was thinking of, Conor. I seem to remember she was really pissed off at the way he was prodding away for some juicy bit of gossip.

  9. The titillation factor has gone through the roof, Nick, I agree.
    Whereas I am very open about my life some of the more intimate details, I feel, would be made much less by sharing them.
    Though again, they say us writers reveal everything (unknowingly). I suppose that's true too.....
    Food for thought.

  10. Us writers reveal everything unknowingly? You mean because people read between the lines? Then goodness knows what people have deduced about my sex life, my obsessions, my regrets, my failings. It's not true, any of it, I tell you.

  11. I am thinking of Jordan as I write. She described herself as a privat person, then revealed that she needed an intimate tucking procedure after the birth of her latest child. Bleurrrgh. Why would I want to know anything at all about Jordan's fandang? I am not in the slightest bit titilated or interested.

  12. Absolutely. Who wants to know? Who needs to know? Well, I suppose there must be plenty of people who do want to know these lurid details, which is why her autobiography has been leaping off the shelves. Inexplicable.

  13. There is definitely too much personal information in the world. Not enough modesty, not enough moderation. A friend told me that TMZ was streaming live as Heath Ledger's body was being wheeled out of his apartment. That's just sick, a true invasion of privacy.

    In any case, sometimes I think people share things for shock value. Other times I think people share private things with the whole world because there is an inherent loneliness to our world and people have no one in their lives to share with.

  14. Too true, Liz, not enough modesty or moderation. Indeed, what exactly is the point of seeing Heath Ledger's body being wheeled out? And yes, I agree loneliness and the desire to shock are two possible factors. Unfortunately the wealth of media outlets just encourages people with such warped motives.

  15. I think that besides the excellent reasons already given, there is also the fact that many have become so anesthetized by life that they need more and more drastic input to shock them into knowing they are still alive.

    Plus, the papparazzi have made public so many personal details of celebrities lives and traumas that it has lowered the bar on what is considered acceptable to share.

    I would also like to see a return to more discretion and the concept of a private life which is nobody's business.

  16. Quite agree with all your points, Heart. Being shocked into feeling alive and the paparazzi getting us used to less privacy are two major motives. Yes, since when did privacy become suspect and puking your life up over other people become the norm?

  17. It all boils down to the individual regarding themselves as a commodity. The prevailing marketing culture in which we live has the target of dumbing us down so as to make us more susceptible to being influenced. Combined with reducing everything to the lowest common denominator of that which is to be sold or traded. It makes sense to want -the masses- to view everything as a thing to be sold or traded including themselves. If we view ourselves as a commodity then we are completley immersed in that as an idea and thus will be more willing and compliant to the sytem of consumerism that is being imposed.

    That we, as humans, enjoy gossip means that the explosion, or gradual seepage, of celebrity culture is a great hook to capture out attention. Very effective indeed.

    The message being promulgated that anyone can achieve anything leads people to believe that they too can be famous. Talent and achievemnet notwithstanding.

    Being famous for the sake of being famous.

    I despair at the whole circus.

  18. Muddy, as a socialist I couldn't agree more with the idea that we've been encouraged to turn every aspect of ourselves, including our bodies, into commodities to be bought and sold. That's certainly another reason for people's shameless exposure of their most graphic private details. And as you say, our thirst for gossip and the idea that nowadays anyone can manipulate their way into fame just help this whole process along.

  19. Hi Nick,

    I have a bit of a different view of people revealing personal information in public.

    First; I have to say I, like you, am loathe sharing very personal things about myself.

    With that said there have been times when someone has revealed something personal that has helped me.

    An example of this is a few years ago a popular American football player revealed he suffered from Social Phobia. His name is Ricky Williams and plays for the Miami Dolphins football team.

    I too suffer from Social Phobia but had always felt very embarrassed about it, until he spoke publicly about it.

    His admission helped me to see that I'm not the only one and also that I can deal with it and lessen its impact on my life.

    Now I'm not advocating for spilling one's personal information in public just for the heck of it. But I think that sometimes such information can help others to realize that certain frailties or maladies are not as abnormal as they appear in a vacuum.

  20. That's a very valid argument, MDC. As you say, if someone reveals some unusual trait or experience that you share it can make it easier for you to deal with it. I suppose there's a difference between someone who blurts things out to shock or compete or get attention and someone who reveals things thoughtfully and sensitively to explain what sort of person they are or, as you suggest, to help other people.

    Even the latter are often treated by the media as sensational oddballs rather than ordinary people with something a bit different about them.

  21. Wohoooo Oups! I have just finished doing a bejillion things about me post, and came here only to bump into this more recent post of yours, Nick!!!! What an absolute D'oh! But I am not entirely to blame, as it was JD who tagged me with the meme thing and I felt like I should or could. :)
    Hope you and Jenny are well and enjoying 2008 so far.

  22. Hi Gaye, nice to see you again. Struth, that's an awful lot of personal facts you've spilled. Will have a proper look shortly. I'm sure there's nothing lurid enough to be in the tabloids tomorrow morning....

  23. Muhah, when I am rich and famous, I will delete the whole blog anyways but until then blurt-out is my middle name. :)

    Good to be back, missed ya! I will be visiting all my blogmatey's blogs to catch up with what's been happening while I was gone.

  24. Ooops. I agree with the shameless exposure given or provided by celebrities but I have a pretty personal blog. I must admit, many times I wear my heart on my sleeve and probably share more of my 'feelings' than I should or anyone cares about but it's not to gain celebrity or to be sensational and I don't care if anyone reads it or not. Still I wouldn't reveal too much of the inner me.

    On another point, I wonder if the public really does want to know this information. If it wasn't published would anyone care? We have a couple of magazines here who have boycotted the Lindsay Lohan and Brittany Spears type stories and refused to put such people on their covers despite their perceived 'selling power' because they are inappropriate role models for their readership.

    I think there's a difference in someone airing their own dirty laundry and the press 'exposing' it. To me, it's like TV .. don't wanna know . . turn it off . . you have the power!

  25. Gaye - when you're rich and famous, chuck us a few quid, there's a love.

    Baino - I think if someone airs very personal details in a quite genuine way, not to titillate or get attention but just because they want to share and maybe help others, that's fine. Exactly, does the public really want to know? If we heard nothing more about celebrity X or Y, people would just amuse themselves in some other way. Good to hear of those mags refusing to be intrusive. Wish there were similar ones here.