Keep Out! Declarations of Personal Privacy

I’m at that age where the memories of my youth are not even remotely fresh, yet there is one that is still as vivid as if it happened yesterday. It was the day I got my very own bedroom. I vacated the room I shared with my sister and took all my worldly goods (which probably fit in a couple of 2 cube  boxes) and moved down the hall – to a room that was just mine.

At the time, I didn’t realize that my belongings were external place holders for my memories, relationships and travels in the bigger world. I didn’t understand that I was an introvert, and that I needed long stretches of alone time in order to recharge. I did know, however, that I had been given the right to close a door and by doing so, no one else would enter my space.

It was the same right to privacy that had always existed within the walls of my parent’s bedroom – a room that I only ever entered if invited to.

I was visiting one of my children a few years ago when my grandson first invoked his desire for privacy. He had his own bedroom already, but apparently it suddenly dawned on him that it wasn’t just a bedroom, it was his ‘boy cave’. He crayoned this request for privacy:

He added a few images to reinforce the perils that awaited anyone who crossed the threshold of his room!

At our house, the master bedroom and master bath room are ‘non-public’ spaces. The same goes for the contents of desk drawers,  jewellery boxes and filing cabinets! I’ve rarely had occasions where my right to privacy was invaded, but it has happened. It is always a good reminder for me that others do not understand my needs or share my concept of boundaries. In the future, I will be sure to put up a “KeEp ouT!” sign, scrawled in crayon and illustrated with a skull and crossbones…

The Car Guy and I also understand that couples need their own space too, so we each have lairs that we can retreat to.

Let there be spaces in your togetherness.
– Kahlil Gibran –

Perhaps this need for privacy increases as we try to live in a world where our privacy is so often invaded, and each day we inch closer to George Orwell’s Big Brother  world in the book “1984”. For example:

– The sites we go to on the internet can leave a digital bread crumb for those who want to follow the trail and then bombard us with advertising or try to highjack our identity.

– Our credit cards, loyalty cards, memberships, ID numbers, library cards, medical history and every other piece of information with our name on it is controlled by companies who may, or may not be able to protect the data, nor guarantee our privacy.

Surveillance cameras at intersections, toll booths, airports, bank machines and public spaces track our movements.

Facebook, an internet social media company, has the largest biometric database in the world — and it’s been formed by people voluntarily submitting pictures of themselves and their friends and family to Facebook and then identifying who the faces belong to.

-If you use a cell phone, your phone provider knows who you phoned, for how long, and where you were at the time. If your cell phone remains turned on, your cell phone provider could also be keeping track of your location, minute by minute. Your computer or other such device can also give out an approximate location when you are connected to the internet.

– Some vehicle GPS systems, such as the OnStar service offered by GM, can collect and store information such as speed and global position.

Google street view – I’m glad we have a row of tall trees screening our property…

The last bastion of privacy, then, is inside your home – or maybe the bathroom in your home, if you have children!

How does privacy work in your home? How strongly do you feel about it?

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28 comments

  1. I shared a bedroom with my sister until I was 15. I had a glorious 4 years of privacy before I got married (the first time) and ‘mine’ became ‘ours’. When the boys were little, we didn’t have strict privacy rules, although they knew that if a door was closed it meant ‘Do Not Disturb’ (or – if there was an emergency – knock first, then wait for permission to enter). My (second) husband and I have our own private spaces – mine is my writing ‘sanctuary’ (a former bedroom filled with all my precious things); he has his garage (crammed full of his stuff; my fingers itch to clear some of it out and organize the rest, but I honour his right to be as messy as he wants; he knows where things are!). Personal space is important – I didn’t realize how very much until I actually (FINALLY) had a room of my very own.

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  2. My granddaughters have already carved out their parameters (6 and 10). The older one has a huge sign on her door addressed to her sister. The younger one just closes the door. So far.
    I had four sisters growing up and shared a room with three of them until I was about 15 but I don’t recall any of them barging in on my privacy. What a world we live in now!

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  3. Just hubby and me, and we don’t worry too much about privacy. As far as privacy on Facebook, I don’t post anything that I consider private. And having surveillance cameras in public places doesn’t bother me: I’m never anywhere I’m not supposed to be!

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    • I don’t post anything private on the internet or on Facebook either. Like you, I don’t go to places I shouldn’t go, and I just hope I am never in the right place at the wrong time!

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  4. I remember my son putting a sign on his bedroom door when he was about 4 years old. He had come to me and asked me to spell each word as he wrote it out–KNOCK ON MY DOOR AND I MIGHT LET YOU IN. In my house now I am alone so I have privacy. When I was young, I too, had to share a room with my sister and was so thrilled when my dad added a room to the house for my 2 brother and my sister and I each got our own rooms. I was thrilled! I guess I wanted even more privacy as I put pillows in one side of my closet, a box of books, and a lamp and it became my “reading room.”

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  5. I remember sharing a room with my sister too and how exciting it was when Dad starting building three additional bedrooms onto the back of our little bungalow so we’d all have our own rooms and the main part of the house could be expanded into larger general-purpose rooms. I don’t think I was too eager for Dad to get the extra rooms finished, though, because it was so much fun weaving through the studs of the unfinished walls. It made for such a great playground.

    We didn’t live very long in that house even after the rooms were built. But we sisters still got our own rooms in the newer house Dad and Mom bought, which also had a real basement and not just a dug out. The upside was that there were so many more places to get away from one another, but the downside was that I wasn’t allowed to move the little critters I had buried in the dug out.

    In the new house, I never had to worry about my sister barging in to my bedroom unwelcome. Even back then, my sister was immaculately tidy and organized and I was a complete slob. She had good taste in clothes and I just threw on whatever was laying around. Not much incentive on her part to “borrow” anything from my grunge collection.

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    • I remember how much fun it was to play in the unfinished space during construction, and like you, we soon moved to a house with a real basement instead of a dug out.

      The furnace was in that dug out hole, and there were only two ducts where the heat came out. One was in the kitchen and the other was in the living room. When it was cold out, which was most of the year, we would get dressed in the morning while we were standing on top of the heat duct.

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  6. This is interesting food for thought – especially the internet/Facebook where I find it odd that some people share what I would consider quite private information very freely.
    As a child I had my own bedroom from the age of about 8 and I loved that ( though not as much as my sister who was happy to move out of our decent sized room into the tiniest little room, just big enough for a bed really, so that she could have her own space!) and we would always respect people’s bedrooms and knock on the door and wait for an invitation to enter.

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  7. There is a push-pull thing in this Internet/Facebook age. I find myself constantly amazed at the sorts of things others will share about what I think of as private matters. And i struggle a bit with that in writing my own blog…not wanting to violate the privacy of family or friends. All I can say is that in almost forty years of married life, my husband and I have never opened a piece of the other’s mail. Personal boundaries are honored in my house. Maybe that’s a reflection of growing up in big families (him, eight kids; me, five) where privacy was a rare commodity.

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    • I agree with you about wanting to avoid violating the privacy of family and friends.
      As for mail, my husband and I also don’t generally open something addressed to the other. We have a one day rule, though. If one of us doesn’t open that mail in one day, then it is a signal that the other person should open it and deal with the contents!

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  8. Oh, I love my own room even now at my age….a quaint little haven where all is as I leave it and things are as they should be! But I know what you mean about privacy….we’re trying to raise our teen to be AWARE of what he’s giving up and how social networks, etc. are trying to HIJACK and PROFIT from people’s personal info. It’s a scary thing that kids today accept that privacy isn’t a given.

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      • Yes, you’re absolutely right…I guess I was just thinking of my own situation here when I said that, but totally agree…many many people out there just don’t think deep enough or aren’t aware enough of what’s happening with privacy…….

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  9. Privacy in our home in the city was bad because we were robbed three times (yuck!). But now we’re living at the farm I feel so much more comfortable and have a load of privacy. It’s perfect 😀

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  10. Our family is two people and 3 small dogs.Privacy is not an issue. The dogs let us know when anyone is turning off the main road onto ours and that’s long before they can be seen. As for being fearful of robbers,etc.they better fear us because we won’t be asking any questions if we are invaded.

    We both came from big families and were older children who raised the younger ones for our parents. We both need our own rooms and have always had them em since we began to live together and after we married.Our rooms do have doors but we rarely close them. We are privacy conscious online and we live on an acreage.

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  11. I never had a room of my own until I left my Ex after 25 years of marriage and found my own place. It was quite a revelation…I loved it. Now after 20 years of ‘aloneness.’ I’m learning all over again how to walk that fine line between sharing with my Love and still having some privacy. 🙂

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  12. Some people fear time alone, others need it like they need air. I’m in the latter group, especially when I’m working. It’s not important that others understand my preference, only that they respect it. And yes, Car Guy, I’m speaking to you!! : )

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