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January 29, 2013

LIZ CIANCONE: Do we want our privacy or not?

We Americans are a strange bunch. We insist upon our right to privacy, yet we neglect few opportunities to parade our personal business in public.

The invention of the cell phone springs to mind. I am reminded of comments to Number Two Son by a co-worker who was appalled at the idea of the party-line telephone service so many of us remember. “Everyone would know your business!” she gasped.

Well, my dear, not nearly as many strangers as you permit to eavesdrop on your cell phone conversations.

Not long ago we went out to dinner and sat near two women. One was elderly and was clearly looking forward to spending some quality time with the younger woman, who may have been a daughter or a granddaughter. No sooner had their dinners arrived and a ring tone sent the younger woman digging through her purse to begin an extended conversation.

Her dinner cooling, she left her companion to sit alone. She actually was alone. I was tempted to ask her to join us but decided that was too blatant.

We also insist on the privacy of the voting booth, yet we parade our political sentiments via bumper stickers on our cars. We are still seeing a lot of Obama/Biden stickers, perhaps because those folks want to proclaim themselves winners, but there are a lot of alternatives, even a few Ron Paul supporters. I even saw a Gore/Lieberman bumper sticker recently. Talk about a sore loser.

Some folks don’t mind being identified as smart alecks. I once spotted a bumper sticker urging that I “Eschew Obfuscation.” I went home and looked it up in the dictionary and am happy to shun the obscure, but why not say exactly what you mean. If you mean you are smarter than I, I’m OK with that. I would prefer that you not rub my nose in it.

In spite of proclaiming our right to privacy, we seem to glory in sharing our politics and opinions on any and every issue — the social ones especially.

Do I really need to know your feelings on every issue? Does a bumper sticker change my vote? Do I want to know what you think?

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to opinion@tribstar.com.

 

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