How to Limit Access to Your Private Life

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How much of the outside world do I really want to let in?


First there was the Internet.

Then there were cell phones

Then there was FaceBook.

Now there is Twitter.

What's next? GPS chip implants? Actually, I've read they are already available.

At some point you have to ask yourself a basic question. How much access do you want to allow in your own life from the outside world?

For me, I've reached my limit. The world is a raging ocean surging into my life on a daily, if not moment by moment, basis. All that stands between me and its power to wash me away with it is the dam I've built with the choices I make to protect myself.

Every time I buy a new gadget or sign up for a new service, I poke a hole in this dam letting more and more of the world stream into the pool of my individual life. A few holes are manageable. Like the little Dutch boy sticking his fingers into the dyke, I have the ability to maintain a measure of security for myself. But if I allow more holes than I have fingers, eventually I will be tsunami-ed by the rising currents of an ever-increasing world of technology. The more access I allow, the less privacy I can preserve for myself. So what follows are the holes I choose to allow and the points at which I cry, "Enough!"

The Internet


The Internet is a wonderland of information at my very fingertips. Resources complete with digital photography and streaming video have opened myriad doors for my imagination to wander through and explore. It is also a convenience that works on me like the most addictive drug. Once experimented with - now hooked for life. No one has yet developed the twelve-step program to walk me back to a life without it.

Cell phones

Cell phones reeled me in with the promise to save me money on my long-distance calls. I remember the phone calls from their first sales people. "How much do you spend each month on long-distance? Well, for less than that you can have unlimited calling!" I used to average about thirty dollars a month for those out of area calls. Now as a family we each pay more than twice to three times that for the darned things that half the time are out of a charge and the other half of the time nobody on the other end answers. Heaven forbid you leave a message. We can put a man on the moon, but there's no easy or quick way to retrieve cell phone messages.

They have kept their word, though, about being a lifesaver in an emergency. It's nice to know if you are broke down on a deserted road on a rainy night you can wait in the dry haven of your car for a rescue to come. It's nice to know I can leave my house and still be reachable by my children. But do I really want to answer a non-emergency call when I'm standing in the middle of the grocery store, or worse, when I'm in the check-out line? Do I really want my cellphone to ring at the same time as my house phone? Yes, caller I.D. helps, but sometimes I feel pulled from more sides than I have.

I remember only a few years ago when you rarely saw a person on a mobile phone. You'd spot them standing in line at the airport on their phone, no doubt speaking to someone important at the other end of the line about matters of incredible urgency. Those folks were the best salesmen for the devices because they made us all want to have one and feel important too.

Facebook

Facebook slipped into my life through the back door. My children got me into it before I realized what I was getting into. On one hand it's been an amazing bridge to reconnect with people from my past I would never have stumbled upon without it. On the other hand it's been an unprecedented intrusion into once past and forgotten chapters of my life.

Facebook has opened the door to an invasion by high school acquaintances I barely knew well enough to sign a yearbook. It's let advertisers take a brand new shot at getting my hard-earned dollars. It's even been the vehicle for an old boyfriend or two to find out whether or not I was interested in venturing down the road not taken.

But it's also resurrected precious ties I once thought would never be redone: nieces and nephews now living in far away states, cousins once resigned only to the infrequent holiday card, former neighbors from the collection of Army postings decades past, and once closer-than-a-brother friends of my parents who I last corresponded with when I sent them a thank you note for a wedding gift. Instead of remembering them fondly whenever I happen to use the piece of good china they ordered for me from my Rich's registry, now I receive regular updates and the latest pictures of their great-grandchildren. I see these re-established connections as gifts far more precious than that fine china.

Facebook has also mercifully put a stop to the unregulated torrent of forwarded emails that ran the gamut from "the funniest thing I've ever read" to something "that will certainly bring a tear to your eye." My strongest argument with its advent is those folks who signed up for it, then proudly announce that they didn't know you were having the family to lunch on Sunday because "they never look at it!" Then why be on FB? It's certainly their choice to post or not, to simply lurk and not participate, but if you are not even going to give it a glance every once in a while to keep up with your friends' news, then don't misrepresent that you are part of that community. Facebook is for sharing information. Those of us who use it depend on it to do just that. Someone who has no intention of holding up their end of the bargain, shouldn't represent that they are. I still know how to send an email or pick up a phone. Facebook is just an easier way to get a word out to the people in my universe in short order.

Tweeting

But this is where I draw the line. I don't Tweet. I don't think the world at large needs to know my every passing thought or menial activity. I don't want a device beeping at me every few minutes drawing my attention away to every thought and/or activity of everyone else.

Wow. Could I be more closed-minded? Could I be any more stuck in my ways?

No. I've just given away as much of the access to my life that I'm willing to give away at this point in my life. Any more and the surging tide of technology will overtake me, and I'll be carried away to places I just don't choose to go. Isn't that the great thing about all the new devices anyway? They give us choices - more choices than we've ever had about how we want to live our lives.

And I choose to live mine with some limits.



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Comments 21 comments

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Excellent and important Hub. Well written, pithy (as it should be) and fair. I would not have been as generous toward all the new technologies, although I have certainly made use of them for research and I joined FB under duress to have immediate access to all the pictures of my grandchildren. :)

But in spite of the worlds that are now at out fingertips, I am still inclined toward cynicism ---- I deal daily with the current generation in the college classroom and it is undeniably true that they do not think, speak, or write as well as students did 20, 30 years ago.

They have broad and easy access to knowledge about almost everything... but their level of understanding or ability to meaningfully engage with the vast world of information is exceedingly and dismayingly shallow.

This is a generalization of course; there are certainly exceptions. But there is great value in deep, thorough knowledge and understanding within a field or discipline. Fewer and fewer of our graduates possess it. It is a serious concern.

My apologies for a lengthy and perhaps pedantic comment. It is, however, a compliment to the importance of your essay that it stirred such a reaction in me. Sharing, of course.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

phdast7: Thoughtful comments are like having a really good editor. Makes my hub better than it was before.

I think there must be something to the easy access to information that is effecting students these days. I believe it impacts the quality of our hubs as well. Too easy to cut and paste, only changing a word or two to get by the algorithm (where's spellcheck when I need it?) Although I'll be the first to admit it is hard to be creative writing about how to do everything from fix a sink to how to make a holiday bow, which at HP's urging is what we are seeing more and more of these days with little concern for creative writing.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Excellent points made here and and even more important asked, yes, just how much do we want of the world washing over into our lives? I remember growing up, we did not have to call someone or even speak to someone the whole day long until we saw them later that day or in the evening after arriving home. When my husband first had gotten a pager, I thought he was silly, as he is not doctor, and I told him so. Then came the cell phones, which we told ourselves were for just an emergency when traveling. I used to could remember phone numbers, but not anymore, as they are all right there. Where does it end. I did not join FB until just this past year as I wanted to be on there to pray with my church friends when a prayer request was needed, but now . . . it never ends.

Voted up +++ and sharing

God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 3 years ago from Croatia, Europe

In short, I agree. When they ask me for my location, I bail. Internet, yes, Facebook, sometimes, Twitter no. Sorry charlie, I have a life to lead.... Great read and voted UP. Cheers, Anastasia


Snurre profile image

Snurre 3 years ago

This is a very interesting hub that talks of important issues. I work online, so I have a strong online presence. But recently I had a nasty experience of being harassed by someone I actually know offline. Because of my online presence, I became more vulnerable to his nasty threats. This is a good lesson for me and from now on I will make sure that I don't post my real name on sites like Facebook or anywhere else that's not work-related.

Voted up, interesting and useful.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Snurre: Welcome to my hubs. Sounds like you had a problem we are all vulnerable to these days. If adult involvement requires caution, how much more is it necessary for young people?

Anastasia: Yes. Twitter for me is a bridge too far. Also Pinterest and I-Tunes in my ears.

Faith Reaper: I forgot pagers! That's where being reachable at all times really started. I feel myself falling behind technologically every day and it makes me feel old. But I just feel like there is a wolf at the door that only needs to stay charged to threaten me.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

I couldn't agree with you more. I sometimes want to yell stop, enough. I just left facebook and feel less bogged down already. I am happy to know i wasn't the only one feeling stressed by too much access. Thank you..Great hub..


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

always exploring: Thanks for the encouragement. I'm still on FB but I've hid all but about a dozen friends. I can't stop saying I know this all sounds like Scrouge, but there are only so many minutes in the day and I'm prioritizing.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

What a great hope! Your allegory with the ocean is both priceless and right on! Every word of this hub applies to the multitudes, but the best part is your points well made!

Voted up, useful, and awesome.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks tillsontitan! I'm surprised how many people feel the same way about this as I do. Of course, those who disagree probably don't comment!


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 3 years ago from Upstate, New York

I am happy to report that I am of the minority when it comes to some modern advances. I have a cell phone but only have it for emergencies and I don't remember the last time I used it. I have avoided the unending pressure to join Facebook. As of this writing I am still not a member.

Hub Pages is my only vice.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

shiningirisheyes: Sounds like you've set your priorities in your life. I do cherish the old friendships I've rekindled on FaceBook. I just think we need to set some boundaries or there will be no time left for valuable activites - like Hub Pages!


Born2care2001 profile image

Born2care2001 3 years ago from Asheville NC

Hi Kathleen,

I agree with Theresa, this is an important hub. For me though it's for another reason. I believe that life is, in part, energy. Most of which we need, yet I have to wonder what impact a cell phone in every pocket(book) is having on our health.

Imagine what it must be like on a jam packed train in Japan when everyone's cell phone goes off...even on vibrate! OMG - then multiply that by the world and all of the other electronic devices. I can't wait to see the long term effects studies that come from this one.

I really enjoyed the piece...just saying where it took my mind!

Have a fab day!

Bruce


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Bruce: Thanks for taking this hub to another level. There are so many ripples to everything we add on to our lives. The environment? Our health, as you pointed out? Our finances? There are many sides to this puzzle.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

I am registered with Twitter and on FBK, and have cell phone but don't use any for more than a couple of minutes. You have mentioned excellent points here.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I'm afraid I'm showing my age with this hub. The younger generation is growing up with these options, and I'm sure will make the best of them. There is nothing inherently wrong with these communications tools. I'm just overwhelmed. I grew up with party lines on telephones!

Thanks for your interest in my hubs.


Little Grandmommy profile image

Little Grandmommy 3 years ago from Small Town Tennessee

I'm really technologically behind. I only have the pc and a cell phone. No pager, ipad, ipod, laptop, mp3 player, etc. Don't want them. My autistic 7 year old grandson had to show me how to use his Wii. :) He took my hands, which were holding the controller, and said, "Like this Grandmommy." As he moved it back and forth and pushed buttons.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

What a great "Grandmommy Moment"! What would we do without these little IT experts? I'm convinced I need to make more of an effort at least to know the terms, but my private life is worth protecting. Thanks for your comments.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 17 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Kathleen......In step with my uncomplicated (basic necessities) lifestyle, I believe I'm able to embrace & appreciate at least most of the privacy I so treasure. My pc & HP is the extent of the exposure I get and of course to what degree is up to me. Have never had a FB accnt and use twitter only to share hubs.

My cell phone is just a simple tracfone by which I'm able to make and receive calls and texts. That's it. I use it only when away from home anyway. I suppose I'm one of the few people who still likes her home phone.

Unfortunately, no matter what we do or how hard we try.....privacy is definitely at a premium. We can rarely get away from the MANY cameras-videos-tapes & tracking where-abouts has become simple!

I can see the benefits in many cases, but the lack of privacy is still difficult to deal with, IMO.

I can protect the privacy of my own little personal world to some extent by living in peace and solitude without neighbors close by and by my habits of enjoying being a loner (except for "family). I am a less than techno-talented boomer & I'm fine with this.

Great hub Kathleen, as always....UP+++ Paula


Benny01 profile image

Benny01 17 months ago from Lagos, Nigeria

Kathleen, as you rightly observed, with technology, there is no more privacy.

Though we can still manage our privacy by being mindful of the information we share on the internet.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 17 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Benny01 and Paula: Thanks ladies. Kindred spirits here. I appreciate hearing from you.

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