here's an idea that i read about today: privacy is so important because without privacy there can't be intimacy. there are two ways of being aware of something-- intimacy is one and observation is the other. when we observe something we examine or attend to it. but being intimate just is to give up our role as an observer and experience the damn thing. intimacy is when we cease to observe and are totally present with someone or something, agenda-less, and we're not aware of what we might look like to anybody else, or even to ourselves. we're consumed by the experience. he [r. gerstein, ethics 89] is talking about passionate love, of course, about how sex can be sometimes, but he also cites prayer and religious ecstacy, or being lost in our work. but intimacy is fragile, he says. any awareness that we're being observed, and we become observers ourselves, attending to the surface of things, how we might be percieved, and we begin to consciously behave in the sorts of ways that we behave when we're aware of an audience. intimacy is over. so, he says, we have to fight to protect private spaces or we forfeit this really meaningful way of experiencing.
it gets a little nutty, a little natural-law-ish, a little tediously transcendent at the end, but i liked it. and it's all been said before, about the internet and privacy, but this paper helped me to clarify a worry i have: if i participate in these internet communities where i'm constantly telling people, or constantly making information available, about what i'm listening to, what i'm reading, what i'm thinking and working on, do i then listen and read and work and think on the surface of things? am i making it more difficult for myself to know things intimately? impossible? what about people?