Balancing the Secrets of Private Disclosures

Balancing the Secrets of Private Disclosures

Balancing the Secrets of Private Disclosures

Balancing the Secrets of Private Disclosures

Synopsis

This book joins together disclosure, privacy, and secrecy to pursue a greater understanding of how people are both public and private in their interactions. To be social yet autonomous, known yet unknown, independent yet dependent on others is essential to the communicative world. How do people manage these seemingly incongruous goals? This book argues that they actively work at balancing simultaneous needs of being both public and private. It highlights many different ways that people balance their public needs with their privacy needs underscoring the multidimensional nature of balance. The chapters also show that the opposing needs occur within a variety of contexts, from health issues, such as HIV/AIDS, to television talk shows. Readers will discover that avoiding disclosure is a dominant theme. In this way, the authors demonstrate how people balance privacy and secrecy by deemphasizing openness. Taken as a whole, this volume offers a refreshing new look at age-old concerns.

Excerpt

This book brings together disclosure, privacy, and secrecy to pursue a greater understanding of how people are both public and private. To be social yet autonomous, known yet unknown, independent yet dependent is essential to our communicative world. How do people manage these seemingly incongruous goals? Through its many chapters, this book argues that we actively balance revealing our public and private selves. The challenge in describing the balancing act is to recognize that a singular definition is not sufficient. Instead, balance, in this context, is more complex and variable. We want the right to keep our names private from those trying to sell us money, our telephone numbers from unwelcome callers, our social security numbers from thieves, and certain information secret from employers. At the same time, we choose to tell our family secrets, determine who knows our past, and decide who knows how we feel about others. The main issue for the public-private dialectic is to understand how to achieve goals that allow both disclosure and the ability to keep private or secret those things that make us feel vulnerable. To be able to choose who knows, when they know, if they know, and what they know about us is fundamental to our feeling in control. We do not like being compromised; therefore, we actively direct our efforts to minimize possible risks in our interactions. The way people balance their public-private tensions is essential to everyday life.

The concept of balance illustrates the interdependence of disclosure, privacy, and secrecy. We may find it difficult to let others know who we are if there is no time for solitude. We may feel conflict if we reveal to our partners without any autonomy from them. We may find it troublesome to engage in friendship relationships without time to reflect independently on the meaning of those relationships. Balancing the tensions of granting access through disclosure and managing the simultaneous needs for privacy and secrecy is an indisputable part of our interactions.

These authors illustrate many ways people balance their need to be known with their need to remain inconspicuous. Exploring issues such as HIV/AIDS, battered . . .

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