In danah boyd’s book, It’s Complicated, one quote that stood out to me was when she stated, “for teens that I interviewed, privacy isn’t necessarily something that they have; rather it is something they are actively and continuously trying to achieve in spite of structural or social barriers that make it difficult to do so.”
This quote resonated with me because throughout the semester, we have discussed and debated the topic of privacy versus security. In every instance, we looked at a specific example, or fictional scenario like in the case of Little Brother. However, I cannot recall a time that privacy has been looked at from the perspective of the innate state it exists; from the second we are born to the second we die, we are surveilled to a certain degree.
For better or worse, parents are there from the very beginning teaching right from wrong. When one reaches schooling age, it becomes the school, then, eventually an employer. Throughout the duration of human life, someone is always there to answer to. Therefore, achieving privacy becomes something that actually must be strived for if there is any hope of gaining it. It is not impossible, but it’s complicated.
After coming to this conclusion, I began to imagine the best way that some level of privacy could be achieved, and I could only land on one answer: power. Which is ironic because in each instance those in power are the ones doing the surveillance – it becomes a pyramid. Sure enough, boyd laid out three methods that can be used to achieve this autonomy and find some degree of privacy with the first stating, “people must have a certain degree of agency or power within a social situation.” Yet, we must ask ourselves is those in power truly have privacy? Whose family do you know more about… the Kardashians or someone you call a friend? While power may bring one closest to privacy, I do not think there is a way to achieve ultimate privacy.
I do not have an answer for privacy, and I am not arguing that all forms of it are evil. I just find it interesting that through boyd’s interviews, it can be seen that privacy has become a construct of society that we strive for but can almost never have.