Experimental Personal Method

I talked to a friend the other day and she mentioned something that’s got me thinking about identity. That’s not completely true, on some level I’m constantly rolling the concept of identity around, (which blogger doesn’t?) but this friend’s comment, and a personal identities struggle, has pushed me to write something… We’ll soon see what that something is, where this something goes.

Identities split under any culturally controlled examination or expression. Take my three blogs (which no longer exist) , there’s a place for friendly chatter (like here) and a place for something more text-based and maybe even work-based, but the boundaries are far from clear, at least for me. For me, everything is personal. It’s the free expression of the personal that allows our “I”s (how do you pluralize I?) as others sane expression. Without the personal we can never be ourselves. With the personal as taboo we can never be free.

Fear of the personal is clearly a fear of something against liberty. Removing the personal is cultural, a subtle means of conforming individual identity to a group identity. One question is the possibility of an unconformed group identity. Who has the courage to be free? There was the media driven “doocedphenomenon (that now seems to be winding down). How many times have you read that you should censor your personal voice?

I’m not suggesting you call your boss an asshole under the banner of liberty, what I’m saying is our lives are our own personal experiments. And we should have the freedom to experiment with concepts and actions, to test creative solutions to personal problems and share the result with whoever may be interested. It’s well know that creativity can get us ostracized. But creative freedom is what we need to even begin to tackle our simplest social problems.

Jamais Cascio writing on privacy

“Privacy isn’t just about keeping stuff secret, it’s about maintaining control over information about yourself that others could use to hurt you, physically, financially or emotionally. Threats to privacy, then, arise from decreasing ability to control one’s information without a corresponding decrease in the threat arising from that loss of control.”

Unfortunately the best way to control information is to not generate information. There may be information that you’d like to keep secret, like a job search, but there may be information like the kind exposed in a divorce that could harm you at work. There is fear and shame associated with a lot of information that is common, but for some reason we continue to hide these commonalities in shame.

I like to think of privacy as something you give, not something you have. Of course you’re not up against me. Cascio’s proposed solution is to “push for social changes that reduce the threat arising from disclosure of personal information.” Maybe there’s more about what those social changes might be at one or the other of his websites. But I also wonder how much our fear of exposure is a symptom of our collective psychosis.

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One Response to “Experimental Personal Method”

  1. On personal constellations « Not Left To Chance Says:

    […] again about what it is I’m doing here. I’ve dealt with this subject before (here) and (here). In those posts, I deal with the question of being openly personal and nothing was resolved, I […]

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