Public vs. Private

Posted: September 1, 2010 in BDSM, general

There seems to be an epidemic lately and, while it’s hardly confined to the kink and Leather communities, like many things, it seems to be magnified within our communities.  This is an epidemic of no longer drawing boundaries between what is shared in public and what is kept private, with information that formerly would have been kept private shared freely throughout the internet.  Everywhere you look, our private lives are strewn about the public space, like the contents of our bedrooms thrown out into the street.  I look online and I can find out all about the latest breakups in all their grisly details.  I can find pictures of the genitalia of my acquaintances.  I can find arguments that used to be kept behind closed doors taking place right on my computer screen.  I can read all the lurid details of someone’s latest sexual conquest, often complete with names.  Often, I see things that I feel like I need to bleach my eyes to unsee.

What I miss…is the sanctity of the secret.  I miss the tease of tiny bits of our inner lives shown versus the full reveal of today’s centerfold spread.

Our lives used to be more striptease and less hard core porn.  We used to slowly reveal more and more of ourselves to our friends and lovers, savoring revealing each inch of our private lives.  We used to tease each other with small hints at what went on in our lives.  I miss that.  I miss feeling like I was special for seeing someone’s genitals, as if that was a gift they had given to me and few others, rather than just being one of a faceless mass of people they’d emailed the pictures to.  I miss the feeling of being one of a few trusted friends that someone might confide in after a bad breakup, comforting them and sharing my own secrets of heartbreak.  I miss the happy ignorance of not knowing who did what to whom and being able to easily look people in the eye when we meet.  I miss being able to trust that a lover will keep what we’ve shared between us, special and treasured.  I miss privacy.

I’m not saying we should all hide our true selves.  I’m not even down on exhibitionism.  I just wish that there was more thought and intent behind all this.

I wish that more of us thought more about what it is that we are choosing to share with the world.  For myself, I choose very carefully what I share.  This isn’t to say I don’t adore a great nude picture or also enjoy porn, but if you ever saw that side of me, it would be my intention and I would make sure it’s done well.  Beyond that, I choose very carefully not to share certain parts of my life.  I do not share arguments, secrets, or all the juicy details of my sex life.  I believe that there is often more titilation to be had from hinting and metaphor than from the full monty.  What I do share, I share with the consent of all involved and I share it with careful thought as to how to present it.

I don’t do any of this because I am ashamed…of any part of my life.  I do it because parts of my life are too special to share.

There are parts of my life that are just too treasured to share with the public.  There are wonderful memories I have that would probably turn a lot of cranks, but those are for me and the people who created them with me.  There are parts of my life that might make Shakespeare weep, but again, those are just not for sale or to be given away.  There are secrets that I keep that would make the gossips squeal with delight, but those secrets I hold as a sacred trust to those who told them.  Some things just aren’t for public consumption, even for a public figure.  I prefer to give instead, Mona Lisa’s smile and perhaps a wink.

What happens when we “let it all hang out” and break down these boundaries between public and private?  Well, for one, trust erodes as we know that any slight between friends and lovers will be shared on the internet for all to comment on.  After we realize that any vulnerability shown to another will later be used to harm us, we will have to build walls to protect ourselves, walls that once were those same boundaries that have been tossed aside will instead be built around our hearts.  For another, discord becomes the norm in our communities as arguments that once would be settled in private among those directly involved become public, with battle lines drawn that would rival any middle school playground brawl.  Respect is lost as leaders act like schoolyard bullies and everyone’s dirt is dished up with a side of contempt and rumors repeated often enough become truth.  What once was precious loses value as it becomes passed around in pictures and human beings are reduced to objects without any regard for the person within.  Everything becomes fast-food and what once was steak is eaten with ketchup and mustard.

It is possible to be sexy without sharing everything with everyone.  It is possible to have a very active and adventurous sex life while still honoring the dignity of one’s partners.  It is possible to keep our disagreements private and still find a resolution.  It is possible to keep secrets and confidences.

Moreover, time has proven that the fascination with Mona Lisa’s smile and the mysteries it seems to hide has far outlasted any gossip or dirty story.

And I hope to have many more memories to smile and wink about!


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