Beyond Privacy

Today I’ve been handling some of the incidentals of moving to (yet another) apartment.  Basically that translates to filling out countless forms just to change my address.  While the advent of the internet allows me to update most of my information ‘virtually’, that still means typing in the same new address over and over again.  While it does mean i now know my new zip code, still I’d rather not.  If I had my druthers (whoa, and the spell check on wordpress recognizes druthers as a word!), there would be only one form to update for all of the endless financial, governmental, and work-related groups I need to update on my new home address.

But there is no universal form, basically for reasons of privacy.  Your home address, just like your phone number and social security number, is meant to be private.  That’s why people can choose to be ‘unlisted’.  That’s why you have to update others as to your new address, rather than some widespread system (outside the post office) tracking the change.  In addition, each of these groups does not have the right to know you belong to any of the others.  So, it’s your prerogative to tell or not tell as you like.

I appreciate the privacy.  I don’t want every hobo on the street knowing where I live.  I don’t enjoy the idea of putting myself on endless lists of interest in certain products or at the mercy of various interest groups.  But I do like my convenience.  I like Amazon recommending new books or CDs to me.  I like the idea of being able to update every aspect of my life with one fell swoop.  And all of that is based on allowing others access to my private information.

How much is too much?  Where do I draw the line and say, “No, I’m not going to tell you what type of creamsicle I like best”?  When do I realize it’s too much to re-enter my music preferences each time I visit Pandora?  Is the internet really breaking down traditional barriers and ideas of privacy, or are we merely revealing information to a new community – international users and service providers, rather than those neighbors and friends in our immediate physical area?  Is any of it a good thing, and to what extent?

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Itchy feet.

Tired of the same humdrum neighborhood or weather?  Getting fed up with your current work/life situation?  Feeling the call of somewhere, anywhere else?  I’ve got the answer – move.

CNN Money recently put out this article and study about the top hundred places in the US for a mix of ‘business advantages and lifestyle appeal’.  While the article was a nice little summary of places I might like to go, someday, what caught me more about its content was the general theme of the piece.  It’s an extreme and large case of ‘the grass is greener on the other side’.   With worries running high about the financial markets and investment, CNN Money is giving us this big hint that the solution is to move.

It’s not hard to understand this call for movement.  Historically, the US has been a country of expansion, new frontiers, and an every-broadening dissatisfaction with what’s at hand.  I often wistfully think about going someplace new and exotic – it’s a part of the call that got me to take off two years for gallivanting in China.  And there is something to be said for new experience, new adventure, and learning different customs and places.

But that advantage comes with a price.  In my generation of frequent international travel and the world wide web, I don’t consider it extraordinary to go to Europe.   Places like Africa and Asia are the ones that still hold drama, even as that drama lessens with each passing year.  Instead, there is a restlessness, a lack of rooting, an idea that somewhere or something else might be better that I struggle with every day.  Knowing that I might change my career path 4 or 5 times in my life does not make me particularly interested in investing time in any one career or location.  Consequently, I’ve become a dabbler.

It’s not that I don’t value variety, or a broad, liberal-arts scope to education.  it’s not that I don’t see the value of developing skills in a variety of areas and professions. It’s just that I fear that I – that all of those of my generation – will end up leading lives of all spice and no substance.  That doesn’t make for a very filling life.