Now that the Internet is full of different kinds of ways to survey us and take advantage of our privacy, we should really think about what it means to us. Yes, we like to have our privacy and yes we may feel violated when this is some way broken. What does privacy mean to us and what is it good for? What things belong to our private life and what parts of them can be out in the open? Is it really subjective or are we taught what things should be hidden?
We hear it everywhere - If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. This is the way we have given our right to our privacy away for years, thinking that only the bad guys will be surveyed and caught. The only problem found in this method, is that there are a lot of innocent ones being watched as a collateral damage for no good reason - And that frightens us all. We are not really worried, if someone has done something bad and gets caught through surveillance, even though that is just the thing, that led us here. We might even thank all the surveillance for doing its work.
I strongly believe, that people would be a lot happier, if they had no need to hide anything. The fact, that we need to hide even the obedient things just not to be moralised, is absurd. Who really enjoys keeping secrets? In some cases it seems, that it's not our violated privacy that scares us, but our possible little secrets and what people make of it. What I mean by that is, we are afraid that we wouldn't be accepted or we would be outcasted, criticized and moralised to a point we can't stand.
The saddest thing is we seem to be blind to the most violating thing for our privacy, which is everything that is limiting our freedom of speech. We tend to think that only when people know something, we don't want them to know, is an attack against our privacy. But when we are oppressed not to say what we have in our minds, that makes us believe we all have something to hide - And most of all, something to fear.
There are things we are afraid to say out loud. We are afraid to hear them. We are afraid that we will relate to these stories and they will make us feel something. Sure it feels private, when a story might affect your feelings and it might make you think about yourself. How did we come to a point, where basic human misfortunes became private? Why are we able to listen to good stories about each others, but are unwilling to relate to the misfortune ones?
The reactions we get when we tell a unpleasant story from our lives is not usually what we'd hope for. We get some pity, some advice, some escape mechanisms out of reality. We rarely get to hear a similar story, the other person relating to the feelings and sharing their experience. The most helpful thing is missed. If someone has had the same feelings, it doesn't matter what caused it. We don't have to have the same story, not even remotely, to be able to relate, share, and in that way, help.
Other reactions to some misfortunes of life is that you'll be moralised and criticized about the choices you've made. No matter how small of a thing one has done, it's easier to make the other feel even worse than to relate to having done something wrong.
Like many others, I've noticed more and more news about what governments have been hiding, more news about their lies and the surveillance of citizens seems to be growing at the same time. At first, I was frightened. How much could they get information about me, what would they do with that and what would it mean to my future? There are things that could make impossible for me to get certain jobs or things that could question my reliability. I needed to check my past, and first I tried to hide any trades to those things.
I grew anxious. I realised, that no matter how much I tried to cover my tracks, there are always loopholes and there are so many ways to get the information about my past if dug enough. So, hiding wouldn't help. Coming to terms with my past and standing behind my decisions is the only way to protect myself. I also begun to realise, that I was strongly mistreated many times related to those wrong-doings of mine.
Example from my life
I have a medical record that says I've used cannabis. There are medical records that says I was shut in a mental institution twice. What of it? I had two psychoses related to the use of cannabis and because of that, it defined the way I was treated - A drug abuser. It didn't matter that every time we get more information about psychosis, the results indicate that there has been a traumatic past leading to it. That wasn't taken into notion, I was treated like a criminal while I was instituted. The ways my privacy was taken away were many - Most important phone calls were limited and listened, and by the tone of the call, the medical staff would decide what is my condition to meet for a short and surveilled time people from the outside. Everything I did was taken as a symptom of a mental disease, and not once did the doctor take to account of what I said and felt like.
I was forced to take medicine that made me feel even worse. The doctor didn't listen, so all I was told that my symptoms were just a psychosomatic act of rebellion against the drug usage (oh how much I would've laughed to that if it didn't affect me). They said, that all the medicine could do as a side-effect was make one a bit sleepy or nauseous. Those drugs were for anti-psychotic use, but all it did make me feel more psychotic. So I started to hid the drugs and spat them out later. Surprisingly, it only took a few days when the doctor and other staff saw I was in much better condition. After some more non-medicated days they were sure I was getting better, and so I told another doctor that I haven't taken my meds and this is the result. Immediately after that I was officially taken off the drugs and many of the restrictions were laid off. They had made a mistake and I was quite quickly released. Complaints were made, but none of them went through - When it would have been official, none would admit mistakes were made. As a result, I'm officially a madman.
All this is expected to be private. No one should tell anyone if they have medical history with mental health - People tend to think, that once a broken mind, always a broken mind. Only with medication could one be healed enough to be able to work in this society. After being released, I started therapy without medication and the real reasons for the psychosis were found. Yes, I did use cannabis, and yes, it played a big part for me going through psychosis. When I was under the influence of cannabis, I got a lot of memories from my past, that at first were all good. When they slowly started to get more anxious, my mind just couldn't take it. It protected itself and went in to this state we call psychosis. I sure never want to go through that again, but blaming a plant for it - That is just absurd. That plant saved me and helped me to get help to my real problems. Quite a rough way, but a way nevertheless.
So, now I should have no credibility at all. Now it's all gone. Mad drug-user, nothing more. It has been years since those things happened. Not many know these things, because I should be afraid telling these things. Why? Why should I be afraid? Only because people who don't understand what kind of a plant cannabis is or people who don't understand that it is possible to heal ones mind through therapy? Do I really want to live in fear just because of the people who don't understand reality? I decided against it.
There was a point where I wanted to sue the person who created my traumatic past. After calming down it became more clear everyday, that it would not serve justice at all. There wouldn't even have to be a point where that person would have to admit what has been done, so nothing would have I gained from that. It only would've made all my history coming to test, if I have credibility or not. Am I just an insane little girl who lost her sanity due to the use of cannabis or could it just be her behaviour had reasons? I didn't want to test that. I had no trust in the system. Seemingly obedient citizen has more credibility than a person whose criminal past (cannabis is illegal in Finland) can be proved. My private life would be out in the open to be examined thoroughly. I did not want to go through that. If the time comes, when that has to be solved through the legal system, I am now ready for that. For now, there's no need for that.
I was able to burn my own prison down during the process and cut my chains that hold me in the past. I found that more I kept to myself with this past, more I felt like I had to hide. But never there was a point, where I would have felt good to be inspected and forced to share these things. Since my privacy has been violated in number of ways through my life, for a long time I tried to build some sort of privacy around myself, only resulting to be a disaster. It always felt like I was living a lie and having double life. I decided to put an end to it and live just one life, the one I really want. I realise, that the only thing that really is and ever will be completely private, are my thoughts. Every time I act on any of my thoughts, it's not fully private anymore. It affects the reality around me and that reality we all share. Only the reality in my head is just mine, and I can choose what parts of that I will give out.
It's obvious I needed to understand a lot before I could stand behind my decisions and feel like I really have nothing to hide. If any of this information ever comes in the way to get a job, then that job really is not meant for me. I would never want to have a job, where I'm forced to live a lie and be afraid if something from the past comes into daylight.
Of course, it should be considered, if I feel this way only because my privacy has been violated so many times. That sure can be true - I have grown tired to give anyone the possibility to violate my privacy anymore. It comes back to the saying: If you got nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. I've had a life full of ups and downs, been a criminal and been a madman, and so what? There it is, a fraction of my life that can be tracked down. It never was private. It only had an illusion of privacy, nothing more.
As long as we fear the judgement laid on us, we will never be able to live without the persistent fear of what our past mistakes might do to us.
We all play a part in this
We also have to keep in mind that very rarely is the violating of our privacy done as a personal attack. And if it is truly the main reason to violate one's privacy to hurt another, we should all take a good look in the mirror and ask ourselves, why are we letting that information leakage hurt that person? Is the person really that bad or could it just be that one is just like any other human being? We all make mistakes, some may seem bigger than others, but we all do them.
Shouldn't we find a way to let everyone have another chance? If you, for whatever reason, have done the most terrible thing to another person you could think of, wouldn't you be even more thankful and willing to change your behaviour and somehow make it up, if you'd let to have that chance? It is not only to make up to the person you violated (most of the cases it is better to leave the other person alone and let one live their life), but mostly it is to make your own life the kind of life you want to live. It is hard enough as it is to live with the fact knowing you've done bad things, let alone you'd be criticized about it the rest of your life. Wouldn't it be an easier life to be able to admit, get over it and start living again?
That doesn't mean there couldn't be some consequences, of course, but they should be fitting to one's mistake. None of those should make one's life impossible, and even with the legal system we have in many so called "civilized" western countries, we are having a lot of problems. Some are sanctioned with such fees they are unable to pay off even if they could live seven lives, and some prisoners get so alienated from the society it is nearly impossible to come back again.
It seems like hiding isn't going to help, since the surveillance is just going to get worse by day. We need activism for that, be able to have individuals who really feel like they have nothing to hide - Even though there would be a law against of something one has done. We need to set the atmosphere, where we are not judging decisions of others and have strong enough people to take it as long as there are judgemental masses. No one should be forced to this, since one must really be in terms with the past. Without that, minds can be crushed and lives ruined. To be in a state where you have nothing to fear, you'll have nothing to lose.
There is a need for change in the way our governments work all around the world, and as long as they feel (and we believe) that the ordinary people are the problem, governments are unable to find the problems in themselves. After all, the violation of our privacy is nothing more than a collateral damage of paranoid governments wanting to protect themselves.
Of course, we are fed all the horrors of the world by the media, and not just the mainstream one. No matter where you find your information about the surrounding world, you'll find judgements laid on one group or another. There is simply no person who could stand in some imaginary moral high-ground compared to others. Only when the atmosphere is that there really is nothing to hide - No need to hide - we can hope for all this surveillance to loosen up. If we are demanding heads to be cut, we will get our privacy cut little by little until we are all treated as objects, not as persons that we are. There is no need to set examples by strict convictions, it only makes everything go deeper - Only to be dug up with even more collateral damage on the way.
Let's put the real problems on the table that are causing all the terrible actions so we would be able to really heal the wounds we have as individuals and as societies, and let's not just cover them up. Be what you are without fear of your mistakes. Be brave enough to face your past and make peace with it. Be proud of being able to live with the past and having learned from it.
PS. As of now, I am running for European parliament, trying to sail there as a Pirate (Yar!) (Yes, Finland has a Pirate Party, too). No doubt these facts could affect my "campaign", which really is based on discussing with people rather than trying to sell myself as some superior know-it-all. Of course anyone who has too much time on their hands will find this text just by using Google, so this is not trying to be purposely hidden on a foreign site. Happened to have this almost-ready-to-be-published text in English buried along many others and the time to publish this has now come. Reason I'm telling you this is to promote the feeling, that no matter who you are and what status you have or are aiming to get, it should not be a reason to hide your true self. It's more the opposite - The more known you are, the more open you should be about who you really are.