Place, privacy, and dignity

Richard Weaver argues in Visions of Order that our privacy and dignity depend on our being rooted in space. He predicted that as people become less attached to a geographical place, privacy and dignity erode.

There is something protective about “place”; it means isolation, privacy, and finally identity. … we must again become sensitive enough to realize that “place” means privacy and dignity …

When Weaver wrote those words in 1964, he was concerned about physical mobility. Imagine what he would have thought of online life.

I find it interesting that Weaver links privacy and dignity. There is a great deal of talk about loss of privacy online, but not much about loss of dignity. The loss of dignity is just as real, and more under our control. We may lose privacy through a third party mishandling data, but our loss of dignity we often bring on ourselves.

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