Friday, February 8, 2013

The Virtue of Privacy and of Being a Private Person


I am a private person.  I don't feel the need to share my life with the world.  In fact, I have found that I have done much more with my life since I stopped sharing my every life detail with others.  However, I have also found that many people do not understand how a person can not desire to share everything they do with the world.  This presents an interesting dilemma for many.  I have found that, as a truly private person, I have no place on Facebook.

At one time I shared my not-so-exciting life with others over the internet.  I once had a Facebook account, a Myspace, and blog in which I talked all about my boring life and what was happening with it.  I found that when I would say something that other people did not like or did not agree with, it came back to haunt me.  Sometimes the results were just plain scary.  The people I knew, on one hand, thought that I should share everything about my life with them.  This was partly due to the fact that I was quite young when I moved out of my home and I moved quite far from the rest of my family.  I found, however, that when I shared my life with others, there was much questioning about it.  Many people came up to their own conclusions about my life, many of which were erroneous.  Therefore, I began to slowly realize that sharing my life was not for me.

I have always enjoyed writing, both fiction and non-fiction.  I have found that my writings are well received by those who I do not know, but those who I do know either do not care to read what I write, or they are offended by what they read between the lines.  At one time I shared my writings with family and friends, but often this was met with angry responses about something or other.  Sometimes these responses were not told directly to me, but I learned of them through another party.  It was then I decided that I would withdraw as somewhat of an experiment.  In fact, I found that it worked well.  Writing without wondering what others would think or say made me stop worrying and caring.  Instead, I focused on the writing and began to write for a new audience.  I must say, it was exciting.

Talking to other writers, I find that I am not alone in having my work appreciated by other people but not by those who are close to me.  For example, many bloggers state that their family does not read their blogs or that they do not understand the point to blogging.  Much work goes into creating blogs and stories, and it's a shame that family members do not understand that such works are a creative endeavor that says a lot more about a person than what someone says on a Facebook account.  Yet, people expect you to be on Facebook.  In fact, I have found that it angers some that I am not on the site.  What one writes on Facebook is rarely a creative endeavor, and if it is, it is not of the same caliber as a longer written work.  I found that everything I wrote on Facebook was read, scrutinized, and taken apart.  Some of the things I wrote which were not meant to offend got so twisted around that I was on the receiving end of a nasty lashing of the tongue (so to speak).

I am not alone here.  I have known people who are on Facebook who are constantly getting a lashing.  Part of me thinks that these individuals are masochists, because they don't feel the need to end their involvement in (a)social networking and begin a psychologically healthier life.  Instead, they feel a duty to be on it and share every essence of their lives with those who will take notice.  The draw of watching other people or maintaining "virtual" friendships is so strong that many can not even begin to hope to escape.  It is sad that they feel this way.  I liken it to a sickness, because I strongly believe that this is not the optimal way to lives one's life.  I also believe if something is not optimal, then the best method should instead be applied.  The result, of course, is to leave the site.  Of course, this is not what those who have a financial stake in the world of (a)social networking want you to realize. That's right: (a)social networking is a business, and to exist, it requires on you being on the site.  Many people forget this and think that Facebook was created for "fun."

When I woke up to the reality that sharing my life with others was not for me, I realized that my life began to flourish.  I realized that I shared too much with others, and pulled back on the reins, so to speak.  I realized, however, that leaving Facebook would amount to little good if I was still to share everything I did through blogs and other writings.  Therefore, I got rid of them.  Of course, this may not work for everyone, but I felt happier and more sure of myself as a person once I stopped sharing my life with those who are 'far away'.  I found that I was less creative and more lethargic about life as a whole when I was sharing my writings and creations with those who only scrutinized them.  I found that being on Facebook is often a vehicle for others to watch you and keep you within their gaze.  It is comforting to some to know that they watch you.  Can you imagine the horror that many would feel if one day you were no longer on Facebook?  This dependence on Facebook is part of the problem why many people are so addicted, and why there is much anger when a person disappears from the site.

I am a very private person.  I believe that keeping my life to myself is the best way to live my life.  This does not mean that I won't tell people about anything in my life.  It does mean, however, that I will not expel energy to proclaim to the world every small thing I do.  Some of my writings are best reserved for those who are strangers to me.  Many of my writings should not be scrutinized by those who are close to me.  Every member of my extended family does not need to know everything I eat, everywhere I go, and every event that happens in my life.  There have to be some things that we keep to ourselves -- some things that we keep sacred.  Life is not about keeping secrets, but it's not about telling everything to others either.  I have found that I have often told too much about myself and my life over the internet, and only came to regret it in the end.  Facebook was one of those ways that easily allowed me to say far too much.  I never felt comfortable telling the world about the small details of my life.  Much of it is nobodies business.  Other things only cause one, in the end, to feel negative emotions.  I felt no want to make people jealous of my life through (a)social networking.  I felt that competing with people over the internet that I once knew well, but now barely know, was a foolish endeavor.  Such a site is a bastion for those who feel the need to be the center of the world's attention.  That was always antithetical to who I was.  I feel no need to embark on such a journey.

Many of the world's shapers are private people.  One can not create great things while spending their lives talking about every small thing that they do.  The greatest creations happen in the shadows, in the quiet places where creation thrives.  Few great things happen when one is busy sharing every small detail to the world.  For example, I have found that those who talk about writing a book are less likely to write one than those who just go to work writing it without sharing it to the world.  A critique of one's work can be good, but that should be saved until the end, when the draft is complete and the work is ready to be revised..  Many people on Facebook proudly proclaim the great things that they have planned, but very few actually do those great things they talk about.  Talking about doing something and doing something are two different things.  Generally they are two distinct things that never actually meet.

Being a private person is a positive thing that is respected less and less in a noisy world.  Our world is obsessed with the idea of sharing one's lives at all times.  The modern world tends to elevate the loud and the bold.  If people are talking about you, then you are on top.  As a result, people compete to be seen and heard.  It is not by virtue of a great creation that many thrive to be noticed.  Instead, it is through various methods of being seen.  Whether it is by throwing a temper tantrum on the internet or through saying something that has great shock value, our culture says "you are great if you are noticed."  It is through Facebook that many people get their 'fifteen minutes of fame.'  However, once many join the site, their outside lives stop and they are merely a spectacle for those who take notice.  There is a cost to being a private person, a psychological cost that is rooted deep in our culture.  We believe we want to be seen and it can eat at us.  However, the benefits of being a private person -- free to live one's own life, free to create, and free to shape our own future without the constant scrutinizing gaze of the world -- is far greater than the reality of being a slave to (a)social networking. 

22 comments:

  1. I enjoy your articles. While I think you have taken facebook a bit too seriously to begin with, I totally agree that most material distributed there is complete "brain spam". One is better off keeping away in the first place; wasting time on a good book or running in the woods are more worthy pastimes. No need to worry about what everyone is doing at every time instant. Not much different than abusing cigarettes really. The smartphone could be the new pack of cigs, when i think of it.

    Free from an account myself since 2010. Actually, they just banned me and my account was deleted without a trace left. No given reason. Never cared about creating a new one. Thank the lord :)

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  2. I really enjoy your blog and I am very pleased that I found it. I had no idea that there was someone out there who feels the same way about Facebook.
    Ever since I became a mother I have very little time to myself, and every time I do have it I want to spend it with purpose and not waste it on mindless browsing of other people's meaningless "noise". Facebook is really a big virtual garbage dump. I haven't deleted my account yet but I do not log in anymore.

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    1. Hey Maria. Thanks for reading! I felt alone at first when I made this blog and wondered if there were others who disliked Facebook as much as I did. Many people who I talked to thought I was crazy when I made this blog, but I have found that some people who originally liked Facebook have since left, some because of this blog, and others as a result of the conclusions they drew for themselves.

      I am glad to see that you realize that spending time as a mother to your child is a better use of time than spending hours on Facebook. Sadly, I know many parents who seem to ignore their children as a result of their Facebook use.

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    2. It's funny you mentioned parental neglect, for that is the reason I cite as my final wake up. Instead of simply judging, which I find myself so often doing, I turned the scrutiny onto my own neglect of life due to wasting time. I've since found more sanity; I previously had an overloaded brain filled with the trivial events in others' lives.
      This site was a safe haven for me a year ago when I left Facebook. I found solace in your recognition of the same tragedies that I saw. I recently realized that I often checked your blog with great fervor, the same energy I once gave to Facebook, to keep me "out of trouble." Haha. Thank you. You've been a friend from a distance. I have reclaimed my focus on meaningful activities.

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    3. Yeah...I thought I was one of the only ones too! In fact, most did not understand when I want to leave. Oh well... Glad there are others out there!

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  3. I really enjoy your articles too and you make a lot of very good points. We waste so much of our real lives busying ourselves with our virtual ones... Although I haven´t deleted my FB profile I no practically no longer log on to it. I have an old phone with no internet connection and even though most of my friends don´t understand I don´t want to be accesible 24/24 they respect my choice, I consider them to be the people I want to share my life with. Social networks can be useful when used the right way, but unfortunately it is easy to get lost in them and then it is everything BUT a commucative tool.

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  4. I have been off Facebook since January 2013 and recently felt an urge to go back and wanted to understand why I was feeling it because I felt so good to leave a few months ago. Reading your posts has helped me to come to my senses and even understand why I wanted to go back - because I was, and maybe still am, addicted, even after being away for a while.

    I am remembering now some of the awful feelings that I'd feel being there. I used to post about going to the gym and one of my friends got angry and posted a sarcastic joke about "those who post about going to the gym." But the worst of it was, I support animal rights and going vegetarian/vegan, which REALLY touched a lot of sore spots with people close to me. It was something I was very passionate about and would sometimes post about it BECAUSE it meant a lot to me and I thought Facebook was a place I could share things that were important to me. I got a lot of negative feedback, people being nasty to me and shoving photos of bacon and steaks at me, I was shocked! But yet I stuck around even after that without realizing that was probably the point I should have left.

    Anyway your articles are helping me to stay away, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, they are really helping me stay away and understand my feelings towards both why I feel I want to go back and why I feel I should stay away!

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    1. I hope you haven't gone back to FB since you wrote this, I deleted my account am still waiting for the 14 days to be over so its really gone! I also couldn't figure out why I kept going back and forth deleting then giving in before the 14 days were up and on there again, I was thinking people might think I'm crazy for doing this over and over again, This time I'm sticking to it I found out that FB tries to control people! They now only let you deactivate your account for 28 days max it didn't used to be that way, Also whoever on FB manages your account spies on you, they announce your name on your page and ask things like do you want to pick the friends who you are closest to, to be in your news feed more? So if they are a network trying to connect people to be closer then why are they asking these questions when you can control who you want to see on your news feed yourself by adjusting your page, I suspect they experiment with likes and such on your comments also! I don't trust their motives for their site!! And there is too much competing on FB that divides people!! Glad I'm not going to let them control me anymore!!!

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  5. This is an awesome site. I've deleted my Facebook account several times in the past. I always found the urge to go back; usually because other people insisted. I even did a 9 month detox--which was great. Yes, I have experienced the feeling of people getting angry. I'm like,"Why do you even care?" Majority of those people rarely keep in contact with me anyway. Also, I found that I became more and more open with my life. While this hasn't destroyed my life, it kind of backfired sometimes.

    Facebook has caused a strain in a friendship of mine. This person never made time for me, but was always on Facebook with other people. While Facebook helped, I probably would've been less hurt had I been less preoccupied with my virtual life versus my REAL life. As a fellow writer, FB has also distracted me from my writing. I am constantly changing my ideas and thoughts to accommodate people, but it's mostly in my head.

    I WILL be closing my account. It's time for me to go back to being the private individual that I used to be.

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  6. Not sure how I landed on this site, but your article made for an interesting read. As you rightly say, life is not about keeping secrets, nor is it about telling everything to others either. Rather, it's about getting the balance right between those two things. As for Facebook, I have never joined and never will.

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    1. And please don't ever Join, It's not a healthy site to be on most people don't know they are addicted and that's why I kept going back and forth to it on and off, if it was such a good thing then people wouldn't have these problems! Something healthy and good for you doesn't control you!!

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  7. I agree. I use to get so upset when no one liked or comment on my statuses or commented on my comments. I would delete them. I would worry whether what I said would upset someone. I would constantly check all day and worry about it. I could not live like that. When I did receive likes and comments, it was a temporary satisfaction. Some people were only my friend because of my comments and statuses. I got bored of entertaining people like that. So, I unplugged. I feel free!

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  8. Facebook is the swiss army tool for massive research ops. Surley owned by some power hungy lazy group of scum people that intend to enslave ones mind with its own ego. Through the ego they tap into the masses when they are wide open or bent over; Which ever they prefer. It is worse than cigarrettes. It is the largest dosier ever compiled and it grows like a sick deranged cancer every millisecond. It is the epitome of of being manipulated by jelous lazy emotional narcassists. The good news... The slaves (99 % of people) get stronger through adversity and the Elite slowly illuminate their mirrors with their failure to love anything. You cannot evolve with out love, compassion and an open tolerant mind. The elite AKA the inferior, will be illuminated by themselves.

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  9. Great article mate.
    Keep up the good work.

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  10. Thank you for posting. I'm off Facebook now for about a month and already feel so much freer. Now I'm wanting to keep my personal life even more private. Truth is, I really don't care what others are doing with their lives and I can assume they truthfully don't care what's going on in mine. Let me focus on me and share only with my true friends of which I have one or two. And my sister and mom. Oh yeah, and there is always the power of sharing with a greater power and being still.

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  11. I am much too private for FB, as well. I still have an account, but I really should delete it since I sign on maybe 1-2 times a month and do not reap any benefits by doing so. Instead, I get a bit aggravated by what I see almost every time. It bothers me how social media is making people more self-centered and narcissistic. It seems as though FB is highlighting (and possibly intensifying) our negative tendencies, and if you're perceptive enough to see what is going on with the younger generations who are addicted to social media, it can begin to taint your view of humanity. It's really doing me more harm than good to go on there. I have to take breaks from it or else I find myself becoming super cynical.

    Basically, I am the type who values my privacy, does not seek validation from others, and prefers to spend time learning and engaging in meaningful conversation instead of keeping my focus on trivial details of daily life. I really have no business being on a site like FB, and it makes me a tad insane to have an account by this point. A few years ago, I was willing to share a little more, but people still pointed out that I didn't share much. Why should I? If someone wants to know me better, they ought to strike up a real conversation, instead of acting like a voyeur who watches me from afar. It's like we are all peering into each others' worlds instead of actively being a part of them.

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    1. Here, here. I can't agree more. The voyeurism of Facebook is so freaking creepy. I wish Facebook would go the way of the dodo and never come back.

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  12. This was a wonderful read for me. Some very important points well mentioned. I am also a private person. I do not share my pictures or check in on FB. I see no need to share my information with 450 people at once, most of them I do not even know much about. When I see people around me sharing every bit of their information, I do not understand what fascinates them to do so. The amount of time one wastes on checking who has liked their post, who has commented on it, how should that comment be replied to etc. is a lot of time which could have been used in doing something way more productive. We are living in times where seeking attention has become a habit for people, showing off all the happening things is the only thing to do. I hope we learn to value our time more and experience that there is so much more peace, sense of satisfaction and contentment in being private!

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    1. I'm with you. I have exactly 450 friends! I don't get it and Facebook has made me really dislike people I would have otherwise liked in "real life" if I only saw them occasionally and did not have to be subjected to their constant bragging, begging for attention, etc. Honestly, I have NO IDEA how the people who post constantly keep up with all the comments, etc. I mean, some of these people have full time jobs. Why on earth would they want to spend their lives this way?

      Facebook, in my humble opinion, does not bring people together - it actually eventually drives them apart. I am trying to get up the courage to deactivate for a while. I am quite sure my family and friends will give me a hard time about it although at this point I mostly just lurk.

      Facebook has made me become even MORE private and I think this annoys some of the people in my life. I reluctantly joined and for a while, I reluctantly participated, became more active, and now I feel obligated to "like" photos and posts. Yet, the obligatory nature of this "liking" stuff takes a lot of time.

      But hey, somehow I made it to almost 50 years on the planet with NO Facebook. So, I believe I can easily survive with NO FACEBOOK.

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  13. I've been thinking about this privacy thing a lot lately. It is difficult to explain to active and enthusiastic Facebookers why I'm uneasy with being eavesdropped on by possibly hundreds of people while having an online conversation. They look at me with judgment or incredulity as if being spied or eavesdropped upon is just normal and acceptable (as it is on Facebook) and that *not* liking or caring for this aspect of Facebook is a cause for suspicion. As I mentioned above, the voyeurism of Facebook just creeps me out. I can say this as I've certainly been a voyeur on there myself.

    I was hoping I would get over this hump but I can't and perhaps there is something wrong with me, that I don't feel the need to "share" my life with hundreds of people at the same time. It feels too exposed, just adding a layer of vulnerability. LIfe is hard enough without having the stress of Facebook on top of everything else.

    Ah, the good old days. Am I just getting old? In my opinion, life was so much better before Facebook and the smart phone hijacked human communication. I did participate more actively on Facebook at one time, and I still "like" other's posts and photos because I feel somewhat obligated to, although I'm getting pretty tired of that as well. There was a time in life when we did not feel it necessary to - on a daily basis - keep up with numerous, if not hundreds, of friends and family members daily comings and goings. And now, so many people participate in this daily madness of the obligatory "Like" and now, "Wow" or "Angry" or "Ha Ha" as if it is a normal and even necessary part of one's daily routine.

    I watch with amazement as some people I know spend their entire day on Facebook "like"ing all their friend's posts and photos. And these people are also actively posting, all day long, and getting "likes". How does anyone get anything done anymore and what is all of this "like" ing doing to their brains?

    Someday Facebook will go away but will something even more intrusive and nefarious take it's place? No thanks, I'll hold onto that last vestige of privacy while I can. Perhaps that makes me an outsider or an outlier or not very "social" (at least how it is currently defined) but for my own mental health, I gotta stay clear!

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  14. I just turned 28 and had an epiphany. I had been on Facebook for a decade now and I had this sudden realization that this is not the life I signed up for. I used Facebook for business a lot and it definitely helped me get it off the ground. I built a network of 3500 friends. Ultimately though I felt that the pros did not outweigh the cons and I made the decision that I am done for good. It's almost like a bad relationship you keep going back to. You know how it makes you feel, you know what the research shows and yet you keep logging on.

    I also feel that Facebook as a website and an app are very poorly designed. I would get a headache every time I logged into it because everything is all over the place.

    I wanted to feel free and enjoy each day with calm and serenity. I felt that Facebook was not helping me feel this way and it was also starting to get in the way of my business goals. It is just a huge waste of time.
    I am worried about the next generation, but I know that I want to pass on values to my children and the only way to do that is by being an example to them through your own behaviour.

    I am happy to report that being off Facebook has made me feel calmer, less distracted, determined to accomplish more and simply happier.
    Thanks for your amazing blog. It really is a place of common sense in a world that seems to lack it. I love my life without Facebook!

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    1. Congratulations! I am happy to hear of your transition away from Facebook to a more balanced life. I just hope more young people will leave Facebook in droves. I agree with you that the poor design is pretty overwhelming. Facebook crashes a lot using Safari on my Mac which makes it really annoying.

      I want Facebook to go the way of the dodo (nothing against the dodo).

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