I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our open information society, and I don’t mean our lives laid out for all to see on Facebook or Dating Sites or Instagram, but how nothing seems to be private anymore. I have stood in line at grocery stores and in a few moments had people tell me their story or worse yet the intimate details of someone else’s life. Everything from illnesses, to affairs, to arrests, abortions, drugs..well you get the idea. In five minutes I can walk away from a complete stranger with more information than I could ever want.
When I was a little girl I watched an old English war movie and there was a scene in a war room where three men were talking. The one fellow excused himself and one of the other men asked what was wrong with him. The fellow responded with, “It’s a personal matter.” The fellow just said, “Oh that is unfortunate.” And they continued on with business. Even at that young age I remember thinking about how respectful the whole scene was.
You see I think we have lost some degree of respect when it comes to our personal lives, to ourselves. The more I consider it, the more I believe it is all about respect. Respect for ourselves and respect for others by not prying. The thing is that few people seem to understand what is happening.
I have been doing some research for a potential biography and along the way have found myself asking just how much information should be passed on? (Especially when that person is not alive to answer to information.) How much information would I want my children or grandchildren to know about my life?
Do we disrespect ourselves when we just blab about everything? I used to be a little too open about my life and activities thinking honesty equaled total disclosure. I no longer feel that way. Not that I have any horrendous hidden secrets but there is a certain level of information, of intimacy that really is none of anyone’s business.
There is a certain dignity to the old Stiff Upper Lip. It means that yes I have problems and challenges and I shall look after them. The whole Suck it up Buttercup idea is along the same lines, though a little more expressive.
What is responsible for our fall from dignity? I believe it is the ‘Media’, especially so called reality shows that are in my opinion horrid. Talk show hosts also contribute to this nonsense. Come on the air, wail about your problems, cry about your circumstance, and we shall reward you. What is the reward you ask? Well its some degree of fame I guess. I guess but I don’t really understand.
Back in the fifties or sixties there was a television show called ‘ Queen for a Day’. I only watched it once because I saw people degrade themselves spilling information to gain the most sympathy. It turned my stomach at the time. I had no way of knowing the future held a whole society of ‘poor me’ and listen to my tale of woe.
When people were more dignified it was not a case of not being able to confide in someone, but you didn’t confide in everyone, and those you did go to kept your confidence for to not do so was shameful.
Some people today do carry on their lives without tell-tale drama. Jodi Foster is one that comes to mind immediately but there are lots of others. I have friends that ‘carry on with a stiff upper lip’, that ‘suck it up buttercup’ and do so with grace and dignity. I think we need a little more dignity and self-respect and no I don’t think I want all my secrets known, not because they are horrible but because they are mine.
How do we begin to change society as a whole? Can we even do that or is it okay to carry on and hope someone else will want to follow example?
- Trope-a-Day: Emotions vs. Stoicism (eldraeverse.com)