Springingtiger's Blog

Mature Autism – Privacy Paranoia

The introduction of the Facebook time line, and new changes to the privacy settings in Google have raised once again people’s concerns for their personal privacy. I don’t know whether it is an Asperger’s thing or whether it is just me but I don’t seem to share the same concerns. I appreciate the need to protect one’s bank details and passwords, but otherwise I think people are over protective of their privacy. I think Social Networking on the Internet is a good reason to review and change our attitudes to personal privacy. Openness and the ability to consolidate and integrate information provides the possibility of greater social cohesion and international cooperation, as long as people and governments get over their outmoded fears and learn to share. Openness would immediately render the work of organisations like Wikileaks unneccessary.

Western society has developed a culture of secrecy which I personally consider unhealthy. If one has nothing of which to be ashamed then one does not need to protect one’s privacy with legislation and injunctions. Those who feel a need for concealment are, as far as I can see acting out of guilt or embarrassment, and so we see philandering film stars and footballers, dishonest politicians and crooked businessmen demanding a right to privacy and paying for injunctions. I like to work on the basis that if information is not readily available then the person concealing it has cause for shame or fears prosecution, why else would they need to hide? Further why should privacy be so unequal, a right purchased by the rich, but denied to the ordinary person who may routinely be spied on by his employers?

The sad thing is that in many cases there is, in fact, no reason for obsessive secrecy, we have family members who conceal almost everything, indeed some tried to persuade my young daughter to lie to me in order to conceal a visit to an alleged “guru” of whose veracity I was somewhat sceptical and to whom they had been asked not to take my child, my scepticism was reinforced by the readiness of his followers to teach children to be dishonest, had they been honest I could have accepted it or made other childcare arrangements, now I can no longer trust them.

Much of people’s secrecy lies with their need to “look good”, they are terrified of criticism because their self image matters more to them than truth or even their own personal growth. Recently I corrected the English and pointed out the bad manners of someone whose primary purpose in life appears to be to promote himself as an Internet celebrity, I think I must have wounded his pride, but I must admit to a certain relief that my mailbox, Facebook and Twitter stream are no longer full of his appeals for people to follow him and other pieces of self promotion.

In our family people don’t tell me things they want to keep secret, for obvious reasons. My wife Neelam, has just pointed out to me that sometimes it is easier to keep things concealed rather than explain them. This makes sense as trying to explain anything to some people is a soul destroying exercise, and not worth the effort.

To me it seems logical for Google to consolidate information from its several services to make its service provision more efficient. I don’t care whether people approve of my Facebook posts or agree with the opinions I post in Twitter or in my blog. As I once responded to criticism, “Do I look like someone who cares what other people think?” They agreed that my dress sense gave no evidence of a concern for other people’s opinions. However I would defend to the death their right to express them. I am not going to think less of someone because they occasionally do or say something stupid, but I have a natural talent for ignoring people. As for the secrets people try to hide, I fail to see why, in most cases, they think anyone is interested, the personal lives of most people are boring. If they have done anything they really do need to hide, perhaps they shouldn’t have done it in the first place!


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