Privacy is Priceless in a Public World

Not everyone wants to feel like a celebrity.  Lauren / Flickr
Not everyone wants to feel like a celebrity. Lauren / Flickr

What does it mean to have privacy?

The other day, a girl in “shorts” walked past me, and I thought about the level of privacy she wanted in her life. Obviously not much privacy for her privates; those shorts left little to the imagination.

I generally admire the way most girls dress here, and I must say shorts are definitely not a crime—I wear them myself—when done in a classy fashion. An outfit makes a statement about who you are, and how much of yourself you give out to the public.

An outfit where I could see the better part of your southern regions probably gives the idea that you don’t want your body to be private, nor do you want your life or the people who pass through it to be private either.

I guess in an age of sexual liberation there’s nothing wrong with that, but I think sometimes a little modesty is in order. Even as a girl, I really don’t want to see all your goodies. So keep them to yourself, please.

Eating lunch with a friend of mine, another person walked by who was having a conversation on their mobile. That person stood at least twenty feet away from us, but we still heard every detail.

Clearly they have no problem with all passers-by listening in on their problems, woes and bedroom secrets.
Privacy is a good thing. No one wants to know who I’m dating, the nuances of our relationship, or wants to listen to my phone conversations.

So whenever my phone rings, I find it necessary to speak at a level where only the person on the other end can hear what I am saying. Phone calls were once as private as personal conversations. Now they broadcast one’s life to the surrounding community.

Sure, if you want to broadcast your business to everyone, that’s your business. It becomes my problem when your life intrudes on mine. Like when it intrudes on my lunch or a professor’s lesson as you’re walking through the corridors of Sykes angrily declaring how much you despise your father. That’s your private life and no one really cares about your problems.

People complain how much the government or society infringes on their privacy. Yet, they never think about how much they infringe their privacy by turning all their phone calls and private conversations into reality TV broadcasts.
There are different levels of privacy, but it’s polite to pick the ones that allow you to live courteously around others. Whenever you’re reflecting on your life to a wide audience, you should reflect on it in a positive and inspiring way. Not in a way that makes people wish you’d be quiet because you’re being such a nuisance. This is a community, have some respect for other people’s ears.

Philippa Hatendi can be reached at

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