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Is any privacy left in the world?

By Debbie Leffler • Jun 6, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Privacy — how important is it?

It seems like nowadays there is very little of it.

I love my cell phone, but it means that I am always reachable, 24/7. Sure I can turn it off, but what if I miss something important?

I would never separate myself from Facebook, because it is comfortable and comforting to see pictures of people I know all over the country and to keep up with their lives, even a little bit. But I have read that Facebook knows all about me and chooses advertisements to appear on my feed which are based on what Facebook knows about me and thinks I might buy.

Living in our small town is wonderful, and since we have been here more than 40 years, we have gotten acquainted with quite a few people — and their children, and now even sometimes their grandchildren. As a teacher about to start her 17th year of teaching, and as a reporter before that, I have come in contact with many, many people here over the years. I would never give up my walks around town. But often, on those walks, I see people who know me. Most are friendly, but sometimes I wonder about those anonymous people who post on the newspaper website about my columns.

Talking about columns, I know I gave up some privacy when I started writing this column for you, my readers. You know things about me that I divulge in print. I do it in the hope that maybe you can identify with some of the things I do and feel, and that some things I write may amuse you, or inform you, or cause you to think. Yet when I sit here at my computer, I don’t think about you reading these words. If I did, I would be way too self-conscious.

There was a Simon and Garfunkel song on their 1968 album Bookends titled “Save the Life of My Child.” A boy is sitting on a ledge, and passersby panic and think he is going to jump and kill himself, so the police are called to help and a crowd gathers. The last line of the song is the boy stating “Oh, my Grace, I got no hiding place.” Apparently the boy was not in danger; he just wanted to be alone.

What made me think of that song was the recent, wonderful 3D ultrasound pictures and videos my daughter sent me of our soon-to-be grandson, who is due to be born next month in Chile. I may be exaggerating, but I think he looks great. In one of the videos, he sticks out his tongue, and in another, he opens his eyes. Some of the still photos are labeled — albeit in Spanish — with words like boca (mouth) and estomago (stomach).

And yet it made me wonder — how would he feel about it if he knew his grandmother could see him in the womb? Is there no privacy left? One would think that being ensconced in one’s mother’s body would be the ultimate place of privacy, but due to technology, it is visible to outsiders.

Would I give up seeing these awesome, pre-birth pictures of this living being, my grandson? Of course not.

I am hoping for two healthy grandsons, both due in late July, one in Chile and one in Texas. I wonder how they will feel when their parents show them their first photographs — not the ones like the treasured first photographs of our children (the newborn ones taken in the hospital) — but now, these first photographs in utero.

I am always in favor of scientific progress and the interesting technology it brings. And I am always in favor of seeing pictures of my grandsons. But this combination of grandsons and technology makes me question whether there is any privacy left in the world.

Debbie Leffler is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. She can be reached at [email protected]

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