COLUMN: Privacy should be respected

Tuesday, June 22, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

Every day I find out more than I need to know about America and Americans. People around me call it a case of TMI (too much information).

Last week, I learned from some retailers that underslips are no longer popular garments in women's fashion. One retailer told me her company hadn't ordered any in a year. It would be almost impossible not to notice that many women are wearing less clothing. I figure in the next few years some people will stop wearing clothing altogether.

It seems to me that we have arrived at the place in history where individual rights have been interpreted by the courts to mean that anything anyone wants to do short of physically assaulting another person is their legal right. Actually, people have worn me out with this assertion to the point where I no longer care.

Apparently, there is an entire culture which has grown up in our midst, where people feel that the whole country needs to know every possible detail about their lives. Suddenly, information that I had always believed was personal is now public. Apparently, most local newspapers and encyclopedias are the only place left where you can find actual public information without having it slathered with gossip, innuendo, assertions and personal data.

Some of us have never in our lives desired to know everything about anyone with whom we have a relationship, and the less we know about total strangers, the better. These days, you don't have to waste your time getting to know some individuals. They will tell you all there is to know about them after the first hello. Those who relish this kind of open society seem to get testy when they don't know your grandmother's first name, your pet's favorite food and your blood type within the first few minutes of your acquaintance.

There are many people who take someone's wish for privacy as a personal offense. I'm grateful every day that the people in my life function under the old adage that familiarity breeds contempt. They respect and practice good manners.

A sane person asked me last week if this trend continues far enough, did I think that it would lead people back to observing personal restraints and common sense. I told her I thought not. I think it will allow certain types of individuals to go off the deep end trying to outdo their own inappropriate behavior. When they think they are on a roll and have everyone's attention, they will knock down the final barrier that protects them from self-destructive behavior and destroy themselves.

Wise people understand that most rules for human interaction are based on sound principles. You don't lie down to sleep beside an open fire because of the possibility that you will burn yourself. People wear clothing to protect their bodies from heat and cold. Simple logic works for most intelligent individuals. Those who find that they must defy the limits usually live to regret their impulsiveness.

Some people like to use their freedoms the same way they use their credit cards. They feel they have to max them out before they expire. They think the same way as others do who try to live their entire lives in one day. They have to try it all at one time: alcohol, drugs and sex, the whole nine yards.

It's such a pleasure to meet people who talk about ideas. That's especially true at the end of a day when you've heard everything you really never wanted to hear about people you never wanted to know in the first place. I suppose this is the end result of our declining educational system. We are learning nothing of significance, therefore we have nothing of merit to discuss. If that is the case, I wonder if it would be too much to ask for some people to maintain silence? After all, there are many who are educated and would enjoy revisiting the knowledge stored up in their brains rather than listening to the trivial ramblings of those culturally attuned to letting it all hang out.

When we have something of importance to say, could we talk?

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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