Thursday, 25 July 2013

Is tradition the last bastion against violation of our privacy?

We have been awash with news about flagrant abuses at all levels of society of one's right to privacy and security: violation of data from governments; illegally telephonic interceptions, corrupting people who were in an official capacity to provide information to the press; kiss and tell stories galore; immediate tweets; facebook updates; instant photos posted on the web; and YET...

...the entire world had to wait until a human messenger arrived via taxi from St Mary's hospital to Buckingham Palace to hear the formal annoucement of the royal birth of Prince George Alexander Louis some 4 hours after his arrival into the world.

An extraordinary feat in today's world of immediacy! No doctor, nurse, police officer, hospital worker, friend, family, or journalist got out the scoop first! No one inside the hospital reached for his or her smart phone to tweet to the world! No-one approached a journalist to make easy money! The might of the world's press and the force of social media had to wait and wait for tradition to take its age old time.

All of this led me thinking whether tradition per se is the last bastion against violation of our privacy. I think that, without doubt, respect for the public's feeling about the Queen and Price William and his wife had some influence as no one wanted to find themselves condamned by that public for having violated the royal couple's privacy. However, I think, or perhaps I should say I hope, that the main reason that the birth happened 4 hours before the news hit the world was because the vast majority of us wanted inter alia:

  • to be part of that tradition,  to 'play the game' as it were;
  • to find relief in that tradition  in the sense that 'not all is lost';

  • to believe that historical tradition still has its role to play and so our own family traditions will survive us;
  • to enjoy the excitement of the wait and how there are moments where it seems that time is on a 'go-slow';
  • to remind ourselves that keeping a confidence is one of the greatest traditional attritubutes man can have; and
  • to have the chance to raise our own standards as tradition would dictate.

Whatever were the reasons, I enjoyed knowing that when people want to keep matters private they still can do it regardless of governments, big brother and the internet. It has been a timely reminder that by exercising traditional methods such as discretion, prudence and respect all of us can live today's world of social media and web immediacy. (By using discretion before posting names of family and friends; by using prudence about passwords and personal information; and by having respect for oneself and others before posting photos.)
Long live tradition and its values.

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