The end of the private conversation

Slashdot: Today, hundreds of millions of people are walking around with devices that can not only record sound, but also do a decent job of turning spoken word into searchable text.

The most interesting thing about this (to me, at least) is the fact that someone, somewhere is already formulating the argument that we have nothing to fear about the permanence of everything we say, since we should never say anything in private that we would not wish to be made public. I don’t know whether this is a position that should be endorsed or not, but either way it certainly stands in opposition to the way we do things today.

At present, we tacitly accept that the things one says in private can be elided since they can’t be proven (“I didn’t say that — he is misrepresenting what actually happened”), which give us the benefit of the doubt we require to remain on good terms with people who are otherwise pleasant to our faces. But we also live in a world where we permit ourselves the act of writing other people off (often justifiably). When everyone’s moments of private weakness are exposed, it’s possible that we’ll need to write off an unprecedented amount of folks.

This does not bother me much, since there are few people in the world I like that much, and I am quite capable of going it alone — what about those who need people? Will they be forced to accept the newly-revealed-to-be-horrendous people in their lives? I don’t know, but let us have compassion for the socially-inclined; let us not judge them too harshly. (“Why are you friends with that person — do you know what they said about you that one time when they were getting drunk with your ex?”)

The end of the private conversation

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