One of the reasons I enjoy winter is that it gets dark earlier. Since it is dark outside, people are in their homes with the lights on. Stay with me now, though this might sound creepy. I love looking through people’s windows as I walk by or ride by on the bus and catch a glimpse of life inside. I’m not looking for anything in particular, and there’s no part of sexual voyeurism. I just enjoy getting to see a small snapshot of life. Most often, people leave their shades closed at such times, which is appropriate to protect privacy during personal or intimate times. But sometimes, the curtains are open and I get to see how someone likes to decorate, or what they are watching on TV. Yesterday, while I was on the bus, I went by a house with big open windows, and peering out at me as I watched him was a beautiful white cat. A couple blocks down I saw a woman in her kitchen sipping on what I presume to be a cup of tea.
I think these windows into people’s lives are beautiful. I also think many other media exist for presenting illuminated windows that give a brief glimpse into one’s life. Social networks are a great way to provide and seek out snapshots of one’s experiences, tastes, and thoughts. Facebook, Twitter, and blogs serve as easy ways to share oneself publicly. I have to think, though, that just as open windows can illuminate both picturesque and uncomfortable or even lewd scenes within, social networks can share harmless, enjoyable information as well as things that should be kept private. The dilemma of Facebook and Twitter are that they feel private. We have friends who view our information, but in reality, we are broadcasting whatever we do on these sites to the whole world. Despite privacy settings, if someone has enough savvy and interest, anyone can access our information. This articlepresents a perfect example of people who posted things that would have been perfectly acceptable among friends, but in a public sphere, they were not only inappropriate, but they were ruled to be criminal by the courts.
I think we need to be careful about what we say and how we say it, or what pictures or links we post. People are peering into our lives, and it is not always the people we intend. If information or thoughts or pictures are private in nature, reserved for intimate or personal space, they don’t belong online. This is no different than if something personal or intimate is taking place in your home, you wouldn’t want someone watching through the window. In those times, you close the blinds and shut the world out. It is inappropriate to share some things with public eyes. Yet other things are fun and healthy to share with whoever cares to receive them. Carelessness and fearful prohibitionare both irresponsible and potentially destructive reactions to living in a social world. Leaving one’s curtains open at all times whether watching tv or making love is reckless and grossly inappropriate. Leaving them closed at all times deprives you of viewing the outside world and letting in the daylight. A responsible, thoughtful person knows when to leave a window to the world open to share life with the people around them and when it is best to keep private things private.