Clifton Fadiman on privacy

Communication starts by being an aid, a convenience. It grows, grows, grows – like a tree if you like it, like a cancer if you don’t. In any case, it ends as a way of life. The transmission and reception of messages, almost irrespective of meaning, becomes an activity fascinating in itself. It can be deeply satisfying to certain temperaments that are outgoing, social, manipulative, present-minded. But it yields its last measure of satisfaction only if pushed to the last degree of development. This involves an ‘assault on privacy,’ or rather, as I believe, a common unconscious willingness to be assaulted.

…I think intrusion is here to stay and I think most of us want it that way. That is what I must remember when momentarily I am irritated by the shutter-snapping of the street corner photographer…He is part of a gigantic communications system by which many of us (and more of us all the time) live, continually taking in each other’s publicity…None of this is imposed on us. We made it.”

– “Who Wants To Be Alone?,” 1957

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