Monthly Archives: January 2015
Privacy seems like such a weird concept these days. Teens howl that their parents need to respect their privacy, but then they’re sending nude photos around the Interwebz. Adults froth at the mouth at the idea that the government has been acquiring cell phone information including the phone numbers we call and text, but then spout off that being detained/searched by the police “should be no big deal if you have nothing to hide”. Parents post gross or embarrassing photos of their too-young-to-consent kids for the humor and shock value, never considering that those photos will still be there when the kid – and their obnoxious peers – are old enough to find them.
So what should be our expectations of privacy? In relationships, I’ve heard of couples who don’t bother to close the door in the bathroom. If that works for you, that’s great. For me? Um, no. Like any other parent, I’ve read the book “Everybody Poops”, and I’m also aware that it’s a natural function of the human body, and yet, I simply do not have the faintest desire to chat with the Scientist while he engages in that particular natural function. (And vice versa) I’ve also heard of couples who maintain separate bank accounts – to which the other spouse does not even have access. For me, that’s an unnecessary extreme, but again, whatever works.
I read the article first published by the Mirror about the woman who stumbled on the fact that her husband had installed Cerberus on her phone, and those of her three teenaged children. Now, Cerberus is marketed as this wonderful anti-theft app that can help track your phone if it’s stolen. What a great invention, right?
The issue is that the person who installs it can then read texts, listen to conversations, and see who the other person is with via the camera. That’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax.
Now, the woman in question apparently has no problem with her husband doing this. She claims that he did tell her he’d done it, but she must have “forgotten”. My question is, Why was she informed that it had been done instead of being consulted as an equal as to the necessity? And her kids – why were they not shown a modicum of respect by telling them as well?
There are so, so many great guys out there. But there are also some controlling jerks who simply run roughshod over their partner until she accepts it as normal. If this woman feels that being spied on is “normal”, what else does she consider normal? Her realization of the app being on her phone did not come from an emergency situation in which her life was in danger and her gallant knight came to her rescue thanks to the wonderful abilities of Cerberus. No. This man routinely goes in and reads her texts and listens in on her conversations. How is this normal?
Her reply to this is chilling, as it speaks to the insidious nature of the whole situation. “If you’ve got nothing to hide, there’s no big deal.” She has been stripped of her right to any privacy, and it’s been replaced by a victim-shaming mentality. Basically, if you want privacy on your phone for any reason, then you must be guilty of something. This attitude has nothing to do with her assertion of “transparency” in a relationship. There is a huge difference between not keeping dangerous secrets from your partner and never having a conversation with only one other person. What if your sister needed to confide in you that she was scared of the lump in her breast? What if your son wants to come out to his father but isn’t sure how yet? Hell, we won’t even go to the serious stuff. Surprise party? Christmas gifts? Secrets don’t always mean destructive.
It saddens me to think that the desire for privacy in any form has become a source of shame. It scares me to think that people play on that shame and guilt for their own sense of power. This is not just undermining her as a human being, but it is teaching her children that this behavior is acceptable. They learn that if their partner demands access to every single iota of their lives, they have no right or reason to refuse unless they are guilty of something. Is this truly the lesson we want to teach our kids?
I spent a long time apologizing for various things about me. On my best day, I was an inconvenience for my parents, so I learned how to stay out of the way and under the radar whenever I wanted to be there. My craving for solitude made this easier, as disappearing by myself into my room or the basement for hours was seen as a positive. Needing any sort of attention or assistance from my parents was not met well, so my self sufficiency was also quickly developed.
By the time I was in middle school, I could cook a basic meal, do laundry, iron my clothes, and do basic housework and gardening. I took pride in this, as my independence was something I valued. My friends and I were together most of the time, but spending some time solo was never seen as a big deal.
As I hit high school, though, things definitely changed. Conflicts at home grew exponentially. Being “popular” was something I didn’t particularly seek, but knew I’d never achieve anyhow. My mother had set stupid rules into place guaranteed to make me “weird” such as forbidding me to wear jeans to a public high school. My parents got some perverse joy out of power and control simply for the fact that they could. They got off on it, which just drove me further into my appreciation for solitude. It kept me away from them.
One thing I heard from people over the years was that I was always willing to listen and be there for people, but I didn’t confide in anyone. My enigmatic behavior wasn’t intentional; I simply didn’t have the desire to open myself up for other people to observe and then to judge.
That said, I was still set in the apologies for so many things.
“I’m sorry I needed some time alone and didn’t go to the movies with you.”
“I’m sorry I can’t go to the party; I can’t be out past curfew.”
“I’m sorry I don’t share my problems.”
“I’m sorry I spaced on helping you with your term paper.”
“I’m sorry I can’t dance with you because of my knee.”
This continued throughout adulthood until several years ago. It wasn’t necessarily a light switch moment; there was no parting of the clouds met with an angelic chorus. It was more of a sunrise. Darkness met with an ever increasing light that made me realize that there will always be people who do not accept or approve of me. At one time, that idea would’ve filled me with shame and regret, and a desire to “fix it”. No more.
There are very few people who truly understand me; other than the Scientist and the Kellions, I can count the number on one hand. In a conversation with the Scientist the other day, the example we discussed was the word “stubborn”. People who get me don’t use that word with me, and they know why. It doesn’t need to be explained; it’s kinda like those jokes that lose their humor if they have to be explained. Same goes. If you don’t “get it”, you aren’t going to. Just one of those things. It isn’t any kind of big deal, though. I don’t get angry if people call me stubborn. I just nod and smile, ignore the invective, and move on. But at one point, I would’ve felt the need to explain, to mitigate, to appease. Now, not so much.
At this point in my life, I’m finally content in who I am.
I am a person who has AD/HD and struggles with it on a regular basis.
I am a person who craves solitude, and for whom not getting it can be disastrous.
I am a person who cannot handle the “joined at the hip” type of relationship. I am forever grateful that my kids weren’t clingy; they are very close to me, but there’s a difference. And hell, I can’t lie. If the Scientist had been that type, those kids would not exist.
I am a person who will work as hard as I can for my job, and who also works just as hard on my creative projects. But like most people, I prefer my creative pursuits.
I am a person who values her own independence more than a lot of other things, and who has no intentions of ever relinquishing it.
Not even a little bit.
And you shouldn’t be either. What do you apologize for that you should embrace instead?