On “Transparency Is Good For Society” versus “Privacy”

The fact that transparency was brought in as a justification for a “better” society is telling.  Here are my two points…

1.  Why do you think transparency “seems” to be a thing that society “gains” from?  Think about the motive behind that idea.  There are multiple layers to the motive, some are okay (I suppose), and some aren’t (corporate, advertising, tracking, NSA, etc…).

Transparency is marketed as “better” partly because of the media itself, so that companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google et al can make their money.  If we weren’t “transparent” at all, they couldn’t collect our content and tailor advertising to us (as an over-simplified example).

So the version of transparency we encounter in our society is an illusion … and a follow up question would be “How was society before all of this ‘transparency’ we have now?”  My answer … in the big picture, about the same specifically as it refers to transparency defined by all of us exposing ourselves online via the media tools available (each with a profit-driven responsibility to investors and shareholders).

That being said … the one big caveat to this being there are specific situations where the idea of transparency can help society.  I am concerned (big picture) about our overall ability as a society to properly manage that transparency when you factor in the totality of the interests in using this transparency as a tool for societal improvement.

Short version:  Any media tool can be used for both good and bad purposes.

Which brings me to #2…

2.  We tend to harbor the illusion that privacy always means “something or things bad we hide from everybody else all of the time.”

That is[1] hardly[2] ever[3] the actual[4] case in reality.  Not never the case, because privacy is also a tool of sorts … so it can be used for both bad and good purposes.

So, from a societal standpoint … which is the basis of your question…

Privacy is absolutely necessary to provide the opportunity for honest, good, and well-meaning people in our society (most people) to have a place that is difficult (hopefully impossible) for any part of the rest of society (containing those wishing to harm) to exploit that place of privacy in any way.  A place of privacy is what allows us to be truly human, to be ourselves.

Yes, that does include the “bad” things like allowing “bad” people that same privacy.  But the way I see it, our privacy is one thing we cannot sacrifice in the name of some societal mission to accomplish other objectives (whatever those objectives may be, which aren’t always clearly defined).

Bad things will always happen, and taking privacy away (in the name of some version of full transparency) won’t solve that problem.  It will merely change the kinds of problems we encounter (which will likely be just as “bad” as the problems we had with the opportunity for an area of privacy, just in different ways).