Almost every morning I do the same thing. I peel a banana with which to top my breakfast cereal. Each time I undress it, I know exactly what I will find. And if there does happen to be a bruise or two, well I already knew this by looking at it from the outside.
This doesn’t work with people. You know it and I know it. What you see is not always what you get. Bananas don’t have much to hide. But people…? We have all sorts of things to hide…!
Mostly little things. Holes in our socks, blemishes on our body, long ago fibs and outright lies from our past. Sometimes big things. A criminal record, a broken marriage, abandoned children, perhaps a whole other life.
Street cameras, airport scanners and computer searches today make it harder to hide anything. And maybe that’s necessary. But is it also good? We’re not yet sure. However — just like sci-fi authors HG Wells and George Orwell predicted — we move in a world where secrets find few hiding places.
Some debate the issue of privacy. I debate the issue of lunacy. I mean do I really want to know everything about you…? About my neighbors…? My boss…? My senator…? Today’s information culture generates billions — count them! — of digital messages, reports, discoveries, revelations every hour of every day. We’ve proved it too much for the human brain to accept let alone process. Now let me assert — even without proof — it’s also too much for the human soul.
Isn’t there still room for some silence and distance and doubt and mystery and magic between us? I think so. You see, most times I don’t wish to KNOW everything about you and my peers. Rather I want to DISCOVER it. And if you’re hung up on the issue of national safety…well, you just don’t know what I’m talking about.
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