In age of TMI, anonymity becomes a treasured commodity
In this day of complete personal disclosure -- where there's really nothing about you that anyone else can't find out -- I long for an age I never got to
experience, a time when anonymity and ambiguity were possible to achieve,
even for celebrities.
As I'm writing, I could go online and find out
Angelina Jolie's measurements or Richard Gere's eating habits in less than five minutes. I could also check out how Mel Gibson's kids are doing, or make sure Megan Fox isn't in a serious relationship.
Celebrities, unless they really try to do otherwise, pay for their great riches and fame by leading very public lives. That's the way it's always been, always will be, and always should be, I guess. It's just part of the package.
What I can't understand is why my friends and I -- the mere fieldworkers and peons of the land, people who one wouldn't be thought to be of any public interest -- would have so much of ourselves out there, much of it at our own behest.
We open Facebook pages and Twitter profiles and insist on letting everyone know that we are single and love the smell of freshly mown grass and are having a just dandy time folding socks, without giving any regard to whether anyone really cares. No one cares.
And if people do care -- there are snoops out there, we must not forget -- are we really anyone else's business? Won't it be a letdown when I finally meet my wife from Sweden someday, and discover that we're Facebook friends (real-life friends four times removed), and already know ev-erything about each other that there is to know, that we might as well have been married for 50 years?
Then there's the privacy that's taken away without my consent or knowledge. I can't tell you the sick feeling I had when I read about the high school student that discovered his school was spying on him through a web-cam on a school-issued computer.
And what about those black boxes that Toyota installs in their cars, to tell anyone who can figure out how to read it how fast the driver was going at a specific time, at what point he pressed the brake, and other various information that Toyota won't talk about?
Don't tell my parents, but Sprint has an option on their cell phone plan that allows parents to track the whereabouts of individual phones. In fact, I think it's free. For people who value privacy, these are daunting times.
But whatever anony-mity I can salvage for myself in this weary age leaves a very refreshing feeling, a distinct sensation that this is the way it should be. I am completely serene, sitting here writing my column with my Internet and cell phone off, knowing that, as long as I don't check my Facebook account or text anyone, no one can know whether I'm here or there or anywhere.
And if someone does find me, I've always got my sunglasses: round, dark Lennon shades that I bought for five bucks last week and represent my
newfound sense of personal mystery. As long as I am wearing these, I am
inscrutable. I could be looking in any direction, asleep, dilated, crazy-eyed, or bloodshot, and no but myself would know. My shades shroud a good part of my outward emotions in a dark blanket of indifference. Even the cameras can't find me inside my head. Not yet, anyway.
I am predicting that soon, a culture will emerge, made up of a growing populace who refuse to be stripped of their mystery and exposed of their history, who won't seek salvation through talk-show confession, who will celebrate their individuality by laying only so much of themselves out in the open, to be picked over and digested at will by the starving birds of the general public.
After all, history may be a cycle, but the public consciousness is a pendulum, swinging from the great grandfather clock of time. It's only a matter of time before gravity takes its course and things start moving the other way, before people get disillusioned with the prostitution of our pasts and secrets for all the world to see, and start reclaiming our long-lost sense of individuality and personal privacy, start remembering to be ourselves again.
And when that time comes, I'll be there.
Nathan Kitzmann is a junior at Detroit Lakes High School.