Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Principles Above Personalities?

"Civilisation is the progress toward a society of privacy.  Civilisation is the process of setting man free from men." 
Ayn Rand (Russian born American writer 1905-82)

A recent meeting with a mother of 3 children whose circumstances have propelled her and her family into the public consciousness prompted me to consider anonymity and our relationship with it.

Anonymity, Privacy and Confidentiality are all themes I necessarily encounter on a regular basis in the course of my work, and yet somehow, they were brought to life more vividly than usual, standing in a busy mainline railway station on a weekday morning meeting a woman whose journey has clearly touched many more hearts than mine.

During the course of a 90 minute meeting, we were interrupted several times, and throughout the course of our discussions I was conscious of a sense of being somehow more visible than usual.  My feeling conspicuous grew and left an impression that has remained with me - what do we take for granted, in terms of our anonymity, and what compromises it?

It struck me that she, whilst certainly not claiming celebrity status, has achieved something of that.  She is recognisable by many who, having never met her, feel she is familiar to them.  This is capable of producing a confusing scenario - to feel 'known' without ever having been introduced is a peculiar dynamic as the line between public and private becomes blurred.

"The problem with losing your anonymity is that you can never go back." 
Marla Maples - American actress

While some are born into greatness, others achieve it, whilst some have it thrust upon them, perhaps the same is true of celebrity.  Is it something of a one way street, which leads to a cul de sac from which its difficult to escape?

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