Privacy Matters: Dirty Little Secrets Are Essential to Your Health

Psst. Come closer here so I can whisper in your delicate ear: I have dirty little secrets. Not bodies-in-the-basement dirty little secrets, but those tiny wishes and memories and thoughts that arise within the experiences of being human. I keep them in a province called Privacy. Entrance is by invitation only.

You have them too. You and I could get very hurt if our dirty little secrets were pried from our hearts without our consent. Our very integrity as human beings would assaulted by shame or guilt or betrayal or depression or anger or abandonment or terror. In short, our health would be compromised. Health. The very word conveys whole. Health is the integrity to be alive. But integrity isn’t perfection.

And therein lies the beauty of our dirty little secrets: they remind us of our limits; they keep us from making mistakes; and they inspire us to act on desires we pain ourselves to suppress for too long.


Every day, as the Web expands and quickens and infiltrates its way across and through our world, the boundaries of our privacy diminish. There’s not much we can do: Technology does what it wants eventually – one way or another. What does it want? I’ll pass on that for now but I can tell you this: technology doesn’t want your privacy. The question for you then is: do you want your privacy?

For Privacy is more than just data and information. In that sense, privacy – in the face of technology – could be considered dying or even dead. We will have to accept that aspects of our privacy will be undermined. But the more fundamental components of Privacy are far more important and vital and eternal than mere data. They are: dignity, solitude and healing.


The purpose of any civilization is to defend dignity. Once a people – or person – loses dignity they are finished. Nothing is more painful than the loss of dignity. Even in death, it’s the dignity of our dislocation from this life that matters. We must remember this when thinking about our relationship with technology. Dignity is even more important than private information: I may have to violate your privacy in order to save your life. But I don’t have to wreck your dignity. And yet, without privacy in our lives our dignity cannot mature.

Solitude isn’t loneliness. Solitude is a marvelous paradox. Solitude is what happens when we access the greater world through a private connection. Without solitude, there is no peace. Without peace there is no health. Without privacy there is no solitude.

Healing can be conceived as a communal process of enabling natural processes. But ultimately, healing is a private matter: all of us who’ve been wounded – by broken skin or heart or pride – need moments of privacy to rest and reflect and hope.


All this leads us back to our dirty little secrets: the secrets we keep are there to defend ourselves, foster our wholeness and provide our humanity. Until we find the freedom or courage or need to turn, face and name our darker parts, keeping dirty little secrets is part of a life-long healing process. Dirty little secrets are private messages from your own life telling you – and only you – what work you have to do. They’re private because you’re the only one who can do the work.

Lastly, keeping our dirty little secrets is a way to protect others. They’re part of communal health. Don’t believe me? Go ask her: how much better in bed was he than me? She may or may not be in a mood to reveal her secret – depending on how you treat her – but I’m pretty sure you really don’t wanna know the answer. See what I mean? :)

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