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The Great Window Illusion

I remember when I first discovered how deceptive the notion of privacy could be.

It happened during a nighttime game of hide-and-seek with my neighborhood pals. I was scurrying in front of my house in search of a suitable hiding place when I noticed I had a crystal-clear view into my kitchen. Bright light streamed out the large windows, beckoning me (and anyone else in the vicinity) to take a look around.

“That’s weird,” I recall thinking.

Like any naive kid, I assumed that when I couldn’t see out the windows, no one could see in.

It was a perfectly logical conclusion for my little-boy mind. Except it was perfectly wrong.

Parading through the house in my underwear would never be the same.

Fast-forward more than three decades, and I’m living in a fishbowl of a different kind.

Today’s privacy issues are eminently more complex and challenging to manage, with most of us striving to walk that delicate balance between living full, open lives while maintaining some degree of personal space.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall prey to the same naïve notion: if I can’t see you, you can’t see me. Or, more precisely, if I’m not aware of being exposed, I must be fully protected.

Just how exposed we truly are, however, is becoming increasingly evident. Whether it’s surveillance cameras or Facebook shell games, the concept of personal privacy is increasingly a façade.

Mark Zuckerberg dubs it “frictionless sharing,” but it may as well be called “evaporating privacy.”

I’m shocked when I consider just how many stalkers are tailing me. Websites remember my name. Advertisers know my hobbies and habits. My cell phone tracks my every move.

Most of the times, I’m oblivious to these breaches or brush them off as a necessary evil of living in our highly connected, somewhat Orwellian society.

But every once in a while, I’m hit with an unexpected photo, note or online relic that I assumed was long gone.

It isn’t.

I’m not ready to batten down the hatches and sacrifice the many benefits of engaging with others online.

If only I could have a wee bit more control over my personal life.

Things were so much simpler when all I needed to do was kill the lights or pull down the shades.


Stop the World, I Wanna…


Ignore my alarm clock.
Rediscover my old record albums.
Powerwash something.
Dance like an idiot.
Adopt a dog.
Roll around in the grass.
Take a risk.
Remove the trumpet from under my bed.
Scoff at my e-mail.  
Sing in the shower.
Plan my next career.
Forget my age.
Toss a Frisbee.
Get lost in a book.
Play a practical joke on someone(s).
Eat lotsa chocolate.
Go back to bed.
Remember what it’s like to imagine.
Talk to God.
Try to write a song.
Blow bubbles.
Build a fort.
Write a thank-you note to a former teacher.
Go swimming.
Smoke a cigar and pretend I’m important.
Study the sky.
Kick my laptop.
Learn to play the guitar (and/or piano).
Get to know my neighbors.
Open a really expensive bottle of wine.
Avoid Walmart.
Hang up on a telemarketer.
Get sidetracked.
Crank the A/C.
Try to figure out Gary Busey.
Find a hammock.

Count my blessings.


This post was inspired by Let’s Blog Off, a community of bloggers united around a common theme. I’m honored to add my perspective to the mix.