Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art
After years as a writer, I am still shocked/amazed/dumbfounded by some of the stories found to be newsworthy today, as well as society's lack of understanding for the term private.
To begin with, when did "private" become the new public? I am old enough to remember that when a public figure asked for privacy it was respected. Now, as I heard on NPR this morning, you can attend a class reunion and your "private" comment can make national news!
Don't get me wrong, I love NPR. I listen to them every morning on my 45 minute drive to the college at which I teach. I enjoy the music, the intellectual commentary and find their news, for the most part, to be trustworthy and to the point.
So, it was with great surprise this morning that I listened to the NPR reporter discuss a matter our new Supreme Court Justice commented on during a "private conversation" (so stated by the reporter) at a college reunion. Why was this news?
Does it not occur to others that what we should be hearing from the media is how our politicians are going to account for the now trillions of dollars that have simply disappeared from our economy? Shouldn't we be reading reports on how poverty, disease, lack of education, homelessness, famine, and abuse are going to be dealt with in our lifetime? Wouldn't it make more sense to be sharing information on how to make the world a better place to live in rather than gossiping about what the Supreme Court Justice said to someone at a college reunion, which, by the way, has nothing to do with how she will consider a case.
I am really bothered by this trend, which seems to be permeating every aspect of the lives. I think it started with those ridiculous reality TV shows. Why anyone would enjoy, find interesting or otherwise care about people living dysfunctional lives is beyond me. The reality is that anyone who has actually lived with dysfunction knows that it is painful, traumatic and not something you proudly share with the rest of the world...or, at least it didn't used to be.
From reality TV, society took a giant step into the public arena with cell phones. Suddenly, the most intimate of conversations are being shared with everyone within earshot. I have written before about my disdain for this phenomena. It simply does not thrill me to learn that: a) Jimmy is soooo hot! or, b) exactly what he did that made him that way! Furthermore, do I enjoy listening to an unappreciative adolescent fight with their parent on the phone all the while rolling their eyes and making faces.
In addition, it is quite disconcerting to me to see someone apparently talking to them self. I grew up in a time when if someone did that they were taken to the mental hospital and committed. However, now, if you look closely, you will see a little ear device that allows the person to hear their cellphone call as well as comment to the caller, anywhere, anytime, anyplace.
Finally, there is texting, which is less intrusive as far as hearing goes, but still eats into other people's space especially when the text message is shared with others or the person texting begins giggling, laughing, commenting and/or swearing at the text they just received.
What, I ask, can be done? Can we take a giant step back to the days where we had telephone booths which closed so that our conversations might remain private? Might it be possible, ever again, for our public figures to be able to speak to a friend in the intimacy of a private party and not have to worry that what they said would become headline news the next day? Would it ever be possible to control technology instead of having technology control us?
Does anyone have any ideas?