Private, Public and Personal

Yesterday, Camillofan disagreed with my comments about the personal taking over the public spaces in which we expect privacy.
It's just that none of the places you named (buses, streets, hallways, etc.) seem to me to qualify as "private space."
She's right: these aren't traditionally thought of as "private space."

Perhaps what I'm objecting to is the sense that there seems to be almost no behaviour that isn't considered public any more, and those are spaces into which the intensely personal has intruded. I don't mind a general conversation in the hallway - but a personal conversation about one's health or love life doesn't belong there. I don't mind people writing or reading on the subway, but putting on their make-up or clipping their toenails doesn't belong there.

My sister worries that her children are growing up in a world in which we're "on" all the time - always reachable by cell phone or IM or Blackberry or whatever new cool tool comes along - and in which we cannot distinguish between the personal and the public. Despite Will R's railing against the use of the word "blogging" to mean anything but thoughtful contributions to what he calls the read/write/think web, the fact is that blogging means using various tools (Moveable Type, WordPress, Blogger, Live Journal, Xanga, etc.) to write and publish publicly about anything the writer chooses to write about. Some blogs are very personal, detailing the writers struggle against illness or problems atwork or chronicling their sex lives.

I'm of two minds about that type of blog. Blame the way I was raised, but I'd hesitate to write in such a public forum about something that personal. Write or call a few friends? Certainly. That's what friends are for, after all. But even in this forum, with the minimal readership I get, talking about the intensely personal, my daily struggles to cope with my life and the on-going changes therein, seems wrong somehow. I've done it in the past and I've felt uncomfortable with it (heck, I feel uncomfortable reading about these things on friends blogs!). So I'm going to stop. That's not an indictment of others that do make that choice, it's simply stating that for me, in this medium, in this forum, it's not the way to go.

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