Why There is No Such Thing as a Private Life

How would we act if we knew that someone was watching and recording everything we said and did? News Flash- they might be!


I recently read an article by Nisha Chittal at medium.com in which she asked people to not live tweet overheard conversations. The author cites recently well-known instances of people live tweeting the bad behavior of others and concludes by writing “what I’m saying is this: let’s put an end to the trend of humiliating people by live tweeting their conversations. Let’s leave people in peace to go about their business without threat of being shamed on Twitter “

She makes a valid point. It got me thinking about the number of times I have misbehaved “anonymously” in public and how I would have felt if my misbehavior had been documented and shared. Answer- terrible. (Want an example? Yeah, I know you do! Once I completely lost my cool at the return counter of an electronics store. I went to the store a week after Christmas to return an item and the return line was over 50 yards long. I couldn't wait that long so I came back a few weeks later to discover that I was now outside the return window for that item. Let's just day I did not hide my anger well at all, to the point where I was "encouraged" to leave.)

She makes another point in her article that hit home even more for me. One of the examples she mentions about someone's private conversation being tweeted was a conversation by Michael Hayden, former Director of the NSA. Of Hayden she writes- “Hayden is a public figure, and thus his conversations — especially those with reporters — become newsworthy because of who he is. But for everyone else, to have your private conversations unknowingly live-tweeted...is the end of privacy as we know it” She implies that government officials and public figures should have lower expectations of privacy than the rest of us.

Before we nod our heads and agree with her on this point, we who are of faith should remember what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth- “We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” 2 Cor 5:20 (niv).

Dang it! We're not off the hook after all! In a sense we are high ranking government officials, it is just that the king we serve and represent is God! We can argue, as the author does, that people should not be watching and documenting our every move and word, but the truth is they are. When we proclaim our faith, when we declare our allegiance to the kingdom of God, we invite scrutiny.

My blow up at the return counter was a significant moment in my life. I walked out realizing that my reputation and standing as a Christian had been potentially damaged over a $50 item. Although my behavior occurred before the era of YouTube and Twitter, the world was watching then, and it still is.

And yet, my ultimate goal is not to live and act better because people are watching, or listening or recording on their smart phone. My goal is to live and act better because that is who I am, to be the type of person who does not need to worry about who is watching me, because I am living like the ambassador I am every day.

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