The Primacy of Privacy

People forget, in an age of promotion, self-promotion, publicity, advertising, the internet, and social media, that personal privacy is essential not only to civility but to civilization.  Today, as never before in history, the maintenance of privacy depends on the moral fortitude to resist intrusion by others and the self-restraint and tact not to intrude on them.

In Third World societies, as in poor ones generally, privacy is compromised by squalor, crowding, and poverty.  In the Western world, privacy’s enemies are democratic society and mass communications—the electronic kind, especially.  Democratic mores demand that we should all be equally receptive, all of the time, to advances made to us by anyone, total strangers included, and ready and willing to “communicate” with him on any subject he chooses.  An uncooperative response is frequently resented and may provoke angry replies and even abuse, as I discovered some months ago when I wrote asking to be unsubscribed from a dozen or more websites, none of whose e-mails had been solicited.  (One source questioned my patriotism, and another replied that it was good riddance, no one needs Catholics for anything.)  So far I’ve yet to receive hostile responses from people whose invitations I’ve ignored to be their “friends” on Facebook—I suppose because the request...

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