Tuesday 20 February 2024

Privacy in a world of extroverts and exhibitionists

When is it too much?

It is interesting when you encounter invasive disclosure requirements that leave you wondering if you have become overexposed and vulnerable.

You meet a fine line and distinction that probably is left to gut instinct as to how you respond and what you are willing to give away. For instance, when over a decade ago the gap in my employment was predicated on the need for cancer treatment and recuperation, I offered to present a medical note from my consultant, but the employer instead requested my medical prescription.

For me, that was egregious and intrusive, I could find no rationale for such a request. Then again, I half appreciated that the request was being processed outside of the boundaries of Europe even as the job was in the UK and I lived in the Netherlands. Much as I could have challenged the request further than I did, I felt that this kind of unwarranted intrusion was not only adverse but that the cultural norms of a certain domain had not cultivated the understanding of elements of privacy we Europeans were accustomed to.

Handling the issues with tact

I soon removed myself from the process and declined the offer because we had reached an impasse beyond which there was no viable future in which I would have felt comfortable.

Indeed, the issues of privacy, secrecy, and confidentiality work together to protect the person we are, having the confidence that you only need to share what is necessary for the sake of meeting a requirement without losing the mechanisation or automation of expediency. I still believe even as a technologist that traditional methods of handling private data have better checks and balances that are less susceptible to unfortunate biases.

At other times, it is being embarrassed by circumstances engendering almost a sense of shame or failure, but these are all part of the story of life if systems are allowed to spare our blushes.

I hope I still have some control

I consciously curate what I am ready to reveal and share, I have faced some challenges that have required inspiration and dare I say of divine provenance to address certain requests. Important in all of this is being open about very significant elements of myself that half a century ago would not have been possible and is still detrimental in some countries and regions around the world.

Where you do not want to be is realising you have lost control of your own narrative in the quest for something you desire, but not at any price.

We have such wide-ranging diversity and have encountered serious adversity at various times, yet we are who we are with all that pertains to who we are and the relationships we hold dear. We understand responsibility and loyalty and appreciate the quality of character while striving for a better world in whatever place we might find ourselves.

I guess I am grateful for understanding and being understood. Even the most interesting and good books need covers, and the most beautiful windows do at times need the curtains drawn. Between the exhibitionist by inclination and the spectacle by duress, neither should be the only choices about how we choose to tell our stories if we are not fully persuaded.

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