"I have nothing to hide" misses the point.

"I have nothing to hide" misses the point.
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June's posts on technology made me think of another really common recitation I keep hearing when it comes to the alarming lack of privacy that the constant "connectivity" of modern life - aka, life online - creates. It seems many people believe that the continual loss of privacy isn't a problem because they have nothing to hide. This gets touted around like it should be a badge of honor, like having nothing to hide makes one a morally superior human being and wanting privacy at all means you're a criminal. This is, of course, what those who seek to control your every move want you to believe. It's so 1984 of them: freedom is slavery; inclusion is exclusion, transparency is security.

It might be true from your perspective that you have nothing to hide. You might be transparent as a window. This might be because you grew up online and don't remember what life was like before the internet like even people my age (not yet 40!) do, which would not be your fault. This might be because you don't know any better and you don't know the absolute necessity of privacy, which would also not be your fault as the powers that be have worked very hard to ensure that you think privacy and secrecy are the same and that secrecy means sin.

The idea that having something to hide means you must be a bad person has had a great PR team, but it doesn't make it true. Privacy is necessary for everything that is required for a full human life: freedom, intimacy in relationships, maintaining a differentiated identity, all that good stuff. It's not about "hiding," it's about having boundaries. While humans need attention throughout their lives to thrive, not everyone needs to know everything about you all the time. And there are certain entities that don't actually need to know as much as they might tell us they need to - "for your safety," of course. I think it's a well-known quote that 'those who would trade liberty for security will get neither.' And that's because total transparency - aka 'nothing to hide' - is only freedom insofar as it is the annihilation of the self. To have nothing to hide - to have no privacy - is to have no boundaries, and to have no boundaries is to have no self. (It's really ironic that, in the era that is more obsessed with Self than ever, the prevailing ideology also supports more and more surveillance, monitoring, tracking, etc. Maybe people genuinely believe those weapons are only used against "the bad guys," meaning whoever disagrees with them...)

Speaking of Us Versus Them, it's not up to you whether you have anything to hide. The powers that be do not have our best interest in mind at all; no matter who you are, at some point, you will be in their crosshairs. Sound paranoid? Well, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you, to quote/paraphrase a certain famous musician. You may not have anything to hide now, but just wait until you no longer agree with the prevailing ideology. (And if we always agree with the prevailing ideology, that's an entirely separate pathology...).