Privacy And Its Malcontents

Enough of this waiting. I’ve been writing and rewriting this damnable post for days and I’m honestly quite sick of it. I think my thoughts on this subject are as clear as they are going to be even if that means they are utterly opaque. Anyway, here goes.

When two or more people are involved in any activity but especially something as intimate as spanking, is there an expectation of privacy for what goes on between them? Should there be? Is privacy a quaint notion that is dead in this day and age?

When I was young, I was given the usual amount of dating advice from various people (except my parents who did not speak of such things). One of the things that was drummed home as an absolute faux pas in etiquette was the idea that one did not kiss and tell. Going out with a girl and then bragging about it to your friends was a sure way to never get a second date. This would usually happen because none of your friends could ever keep their stupid mouths shut.

The desire to brag, gossip and act important by parting with information, no matter how intimate, is something that has plagued the human race since people figured out that “ugh” really meant, “Did you see how short that loincloth was that Klab was wearing?” We now live in an era when Andy Warhols prediction has come true: We all will have our fifteen minutes of fame. The only difference is that we are the ones in charge of it. We are all publishers of a sort, churning out billions of words of content on a daily basis. No subject is off limits anymore. With Twitter, the most fleeting of thoughts can explode onto the world so quickly that our internal editors have no way to stop the presses. Things lke blogs and Twitter can be great things. I read a ton of well-written and informative blogs every day on subjects from hard news and tech to science fiction, comics and spanking. Twitter has recently been in the news as a means of on-the-spot reporting from places like Iran and Haiti. Sadly, it’s also a place where people can instantly let you know that they made a doody that looks like Rasputin. Such is life. I’m not complaining, mind you — life is all about balance and we take the good with the bad. But a news ticker for bodily function reportage seems a bit self-absorbed (or excreted in this case).

One of the most off-putting results of all this instant self-publishing is the fact that not only can a person reveal everything about themselves but about all the people they come in contact with. If I go to a spanking party or any party, I’m well aware that what I do in a public place is fair game but I don’t think this translates into everything I do especially if I have no awareness that my words or actions are going to be part of a news story. This has nothing to do with having or not having anything to hide. If I know I’m innocent of any crime does that make it all right for the police to search my home without a warrant? No it doesn’t. There is a principle that transcends guilt or innocence in that case and enters the realm not just of legality but of right and wrong. Perhaps what I do would embarrass me when taken out of context or out of the moment. For example, maybe I switched during play just for the heck of it but I’d prefer that not to be for public consumption. You might say that I should not be embarrassed about something like that but again, that’s my choice not a choice to be made for me.

My feeling boils down to this: If I’m going to be talking to someone or playing with someone who has an overwhelming desire to be the Associated Press of the scene, then let me know that ahead of time because I’d rather not. I think that’s a simple request. If a person feels the need to relate every moment of every day, no matter how personal or private, then I’d rather not engage in anything but generic chit-chat with that person because I prefer not to have my words or actions broadcast to, at the very least, dozens of people.

What say you?

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12 Responses to “Privacy And Its Malcontents”

  1. I’m a little on the fence on this one, but the one thing that I am in total agreement with you is that ANY private play should be exactly that!! If both parties agree to share those details then so be it, but one party shouldn’t share those details with anyone if the other party doesn’t agree. Unless of course we are talking about a safety issue but I think that goes without saying.

    As for actions in a public/group setting though, I’m not so sure that I agree so readily. If there is a blogger present who I know is likely to post anything and everything, then I, personally, am going to mind my P’s and Q’s around that individual if there are certain things that I may not wish to be known. As an example, when I use to drink it would be nothing for me to down 20 beers at a sitting and remain coherent, however, if someone reported that (especially with misleading statements, or something not quite resembling the whole truth) then I could see it causing quite the problem for me, at least a problem regarding peoples perception of me.

    Everybody has a secret side to them no matter how open they are, that is where it is of the utmost importance to have someones trust, and unfortunately I hear all too often of that trust being breached.

    The biggest problem of someone sharing the secrets of a personal play session is that the person being told is unlikely to raise the topic with the third party, therefore it creates a situation where only one side of the story is told. Now in the least there is a breach of privacy, but at worst it can be like Chinese whispers, where the person relaying the information is only relaying the information that they want the other person to hear, not necessarily what actually happened during that session. I’m somewhat cynical in that department I’m afraid.

    Richard Windsor.

  2. There is some food for thought here, Rad. Common sense would be that if you don’t want to be the subject of a tweet, then it would be wise to let people know that. I don’t think you have to offer any more reason than that you like to maintain your privacy. A person shouldn’t have to justify a preference for privacy.

    Times have changed. It’s more socially acceptable to publicly share personal information than it was when you or I learned the code of conduct. Which means there’s more risk that you or I will end up as part of the content in someone’s little wireless tabloid. Maybe then, it’s more important, these days, to not care what people say about you.

    Gossip predates Twitter by a few millenia. In a way, a tweet is potentially less harmful than gossip, because at least with the tweet, you know what is being said. If the situation arrises that you have to address something that was said about you (perhaps an untruth) I would think it would be easier to deal with a tweet than to deal with plain old fashioned whispering. The spanking scene is already ripe for cross-polination of information, without the help of technology. Just try to picture a diagram that displays all the people you have played with, then connect each person you have played with to every person that person has played with, and so on. Your post has reminded me that what I did with so-and-so is probably already semi-public domain whether I know it or not.

  3. i believe you summed it up just perfectly.
    loretta

  4. Excellent post.

    Instead of writing a whole ‘nother blog post here, I am going to touch on a few points, then write my own post on this subject.

    I agree with Richard – private play should stay just that – private, unless both parties agree to share anything. Play at parties/clubs etc isn’t completely exempt from that in my opinion. It’s not so much the participants blogging about it that I would worry about, but rather those watching who may take things out of context or not know quite what they’re looking at.

    I tend to blog about scenes I have, but on more than one occasion have had people request that I not mention them or the scene at all – and I didn’t. I used to be a far more irresponsible blogger, but have since learned some common decency. In that sense – I tend to assume others have that common decency as well of privacy and respect.

    It’s always better to not mention someone by name or even scene/etc unless you have their permission. Better safe than sorry.

  5. I’m going to speak briefly for the other side — some people (myself included) love getting a mention in people’s blog and so forth. What can I say, I’m an attention whore. It’s fun to be acknowledged. Let’s face it, if we didn’t want to be noticed, we’d stay home and spank behind closed doors, not in a public forum.

    That being said, there should be moderation and discretion. Like Marie, I blog about my scenes and parties. But I don’t mention names or give details unless I know it’s OK to do so. I have friends who play with me and then say, “I can’t WAIT to read your blog about this.” So, some people like it.

    If I am ever guilty of being indiscreet, revealing too much, repeating something I shouldn’t, then I would want to be called on it and I would apologize and retract. However, I must be doing something right, as people seem to trust me.

    People take the revealing of minutiae to the extreme, and it’s gotten out of hand. But some information is fun, and harmless if permission is granted.

  6. @Erica – being mentioned in someone’s blog is fun and exciting, I have to agree – however, if I had played with someone, and didn’t know that they were going to blog about it, and they shared every detail, I’d be irked – whether it was private play (double the irk) or public play.

    We go out and play in public because we enjoy being watched, looked at. We’re exhibitionists. But that doesn’t always equal wanting it to become part of someone elses blog. Which is why, as you say, when we blog, we get permission before mentioning people. It’s fine if you are one of the participants, but if you’re talking about someone you had watched – that’s a little different. Maybe they didn’t want their scene documented or written down. You’d ask before you video tape or take a picture, you should ask before taking written liberties as well (in my opinion).

    Perhaps it’s different when tops or bottoms blog. If a top started mentioning details of their play with different people, would it be the same as a bottom talking about all they had played with? Hm.

  7. This is a similar situation to the pre-internet (and post-internet!) problem of dating an author or songwriter (etc.).

    There was a pretty good chance that they would mine the experiences for writing ideas for their next novel, and so at least some of the private stuff that occurred between you would end up being read by countless strangers (even if “names were changed to protect the guilty”).

    And how much worse when they wrote their *memoirs* and maybe you weren’t in it by your real name, but they describe you in detail, and then share the details of that unfortunate experience with the icicles, motor oil, and wild turkey.

    Or the song detailing your every flaw, which becomes a Top Ten hit.

    I think privacy issues here become a bit like dealing with STDs — there is responsibility on both ends, but a bit more on the blogger’s/infected person’s end. If you have an STD, you are ethically compelled to tell your future sex partners about it — likewise if you have the “needing to share all your most intimate details” disease.

    But you are also required to have some vigilance. There is no reason not to initiate the, “Let’s discuss our sexual safety” talk, and no reason not to say, “Gosh, just so you know, I’m not comfortable with our private moments being shared with the world — when you write about me, use a synonym,” or “Don’t write any details about me at all,” — or whatever.

    Likewise, if you have sex with someone with ghastly oozing sores, or play with a person notorious for their blog on which they write about *everything*, well, hum, that was your own choice, wasn’t it?

  8. You know that saying “I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until…” ? That’s how I felt reading your blog entry just now and I felt myself exhale. Very well said, Rad!

  9. […] RAD discusses Privacy and its Malcontents […]

  10. We do blog… and enjoy doing so… about some of our meetings with spanko friends (both private and party). We always ask permission though, and make it quite clear that we’re 100% fine with sharing ~nothing~. If someone says no… and that’s common… that is that. If they’re good with the idea, than we’ll share… but we make sure to keep it positive and don’t have the slightest problem skipping past details that could possibly be embarrassing our taken out of context.

    That mix seems to work pretty well. For those… like us (and Erica) that sometimes enjoy sharing… it’s an option. For those that don’t, no biggie. We’ll never pick blogging over a friend’s comfort.

    Sharing btw… reading about the experiences of others… is what first got us interested in the spanking community. Before we started reading newsgroups (and then blogs) that shared real life stories about things like spanking parties… we had vastly different ideas of what actually was going on.

    So there is a benefit to sharing. Needs to be done the right way though… and that certainly includes getting full consent.

    ~Todd and Suzy

  11. I’ve re-read this post and the replies several times, and have spent some time thinking about it.

    One thing that comes to mind is that of someone has a scene blog or writes openly about their scene life, others may somehow see them as public figures as opposed to private individuals and may not consider that they are a very real person with every expectation of privacy. Is it right, no it isn’t. I’m just saying it is possible.

    Other than asking before naming, I don’t see that there are any hard and fast rules regarding privacy. I agree that the “don’t kiss and tell” thing doesn’t work well with spanking. At parties, a room full of people may watch you wander into a room with someone, or play with them. Do they need to know every detail? Of course not, but the fact that you’ve played with someone is pretty much out there.

    As far as someone seeing a scene they aren’t involved in, and writing about it elsewhere. I would have an issue with that. Even people standing two feet away don’t know the dynamics between the two people playing.

    While it shouldn’t, the written word may add legitimacy in some people’s minds (I read it, therefore it must be true). With blogs and social networking, someone’s opinion of what they saw can stay out there for a really long time and reach way more people than those who actually saw the scene. I can see the issue with that.

  12. misstorid Says:

    It could be a generational thing, but my peers and I condition certain things by saying we prefer it not be mentioned in their blogs, Livejournal, Twitter, etc.

    I keep names out of summaries of my day that make it to the public. I’ve been online since I was a teen, and now in my twenties, I feel a stronger need for privacy and respect the privacy of others that much more.

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