A Private Confession
Back in 1980s Romania it was a given that you were being listened in on. It was just one of those things, normal. Green meat. Normal. Bribing. Normal. Being extremely careful about what you say and who you share it with. Normal. Nothing unusual there at all. At home, you didn’t discuss politics, you didn’t use names of influential people. One in three people in Communist Romania were informers. So you didn’t trust your friends. That too was normal. Even now I’m almost convinced that I’m being listened in on when I talk to family there. So what?
The phone hacking scandal, and possible future hacking scandals, have thrown up some interesting dilemmas. Privacy is something we, in the West, hold dear. We value it and believe we have a right to it. Look it up – it’s there in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. What’s fascinating is that we seem to have done everything possible to counteract that right. We blast any thought or action across multiple social networking sites, we’re always texting, updating profiles, writing emails, filling up blogs, drowning the world with confessional poems, etc. Because that signifies we’ve fulfilled another right, freedom of speech. So now you can quite easily find out what your favourite actor’s had for lunch and where they’ve just popped off to.
People are open to being read. In fact, they want to be read, retweeted, liked and so on. They want to be shared and appreciated and loved. So if I can read your Tweets why then can’t I listen to your calls? Oh, because you don’t want me to. The line between acceptable information and privacy is therefore drawn up by the individual. Or, in the case of Big Brother, the director. Yet we continue to hand out our personal details to shops, surveys, charities, organisations. And we continue to share our pregnancy results and operation procedures with people on buses and trains. That’s fine, because we’ve chosen to do so.
According to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the individual is held up in esteemed light. Frankly, I want the right to peace and quiet. I want the right to not see advertisements every other moment as I walk down the street. I want many rights that are simply not available to me because some corporation has found a niche to exploit. So, for me, it’s not surprising that phones were hacked by the media. These people are desperate for gossip, they’ll scan a rat hole in the middle of a desert if that was even possible. They’re just looking to sell you the latest on whoever happens to be generating sales. So a lot of people just blinked and carried on. Until the issue itself became a media story for this hungry dog will, eventually, eat its own tail.
I’m off on a short break tomorrow. I’ll be wearing shorts. I’ve had a haircut and I still like eating pizza. I don’t use phones much. Your best bet is to hack my email account. Or you can wait patiently for my autobiography. I’m taking my time with it. I want it to have an effect.