Privacy is a Privilege
Hey, all of you privacy fanatics, take a look around. Ever stop to wonder why most of you are straight, white and male? It’s kinda obvious if you stop to think about it. Repeat after me: privacy is a privilege. Not a right. Look at the first four letters of those two words: “priv-“. Duh. They come from the same root.
When i saw this comment on one of my posts, i wanted to scream: “Everyone has an absolute right to privacy and marketers have an absolute right to (attempt to) generate revenue with those who step out of their privacy and into the public domain.”
Historically, private space came about with the onset of public space. There is no right to privacy historically or now. Private space is also not guaranteed to be a safe space. Look at issues around domestic abuse. There’s a reason that the law got involved in domestic issues – a woman is not a man’s property in either public or private space and society has a duty to protect her regardless.
Guess what? Just as we have a duty in society to protect people in private space, we have a duty to protect them in public space. We don’t allow people to violate each other when they walk out into the street simply because they chose to step out there. Why should we let institutions do so? What gives marketers some special privilege to determine how people can be psychologically manipulated in society?
The topic at hand has to do with youth. What youth have private space? Sure, your children might have their own bedroom with a lockable door and their own computer. How common do you really think this is? Youth are traditionally a population devoid of any privacy freedoms whatsoever. They have no private space. They move into the public arena to be relieved from the ways in which their parents or school authorities can dictate their mobility and communication. This is not an invitation to manipulation by marketers.
I’m tired of engaging in arguments about privacy with anyone who has not read Habermas’ Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Please read it and after finishing, read Warner’s Publics and Counterpublics. Dammit, if privacy is important to you, read these and then let’s talk. But don’t tell me about the right to privacy until you understand the historical trajectory of privacy and think about how marginalized populations. It’s not so utopian cut and dry; privacy is a privilege that many people in this world would die to have.
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