A Country Of Emotional Incontinents..?

The ‘Guardian’ gets philosophical:

If your train journey proves a little trying beware letting go of your emotions lest the live-tweeter in seat 34A reveals your misery to millions.This is what, in effect, happened to a couple who were having a fairly lively argument on board a northbound Virgin train recently. It was their misfortune to be sitting close to comedian Janey Godley, who tweeted the whole thing to several thousand followers – including the real names of the two protagonists.

Now, most people are probably thinking ‘A plague on all their houses’ at this point. Being the ‘Guardian’, however, this provokes angst:

The question is do you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in these public situations and what behaviour can you expect of a witness equipped with a smartphone capable of tweet-picing your every move to the world?


There are the expected responses pointing out the expected – and perfectly reasonable – fact that if you choose to have a public row in a public place, you’ve already said goodbye to privacy.

And oddly enough, these aren’t the most recommended comments!

These, however, are, at least at the time of writing:

Sealion says…Its not just an issue of privacy, its one of respect. Sure, we can choose to broadcast any and every personal thing we see or hear over Twitter but it shows a level of self importance and complete lack of respect of anyone around us.

jam3sm says…Conversations should be treated the same way as photographs. You wouldn’t casually take a photo of someone without asking their permission, and you wouldn’t be able to publish it without their permission. The same should go for people’s conversations.

coffeetable says…I think commenter above are missing the point. It might be an argument that gets tweeted, but it could be anything. It could be a very quiet, private conversation that was only audible from the next seat. It could be something overheard by chance and tweeted with devastating personal consequences. If anything can be tweeted, what’s to stop news of a death or terminal illness reaching friends and relatives through this medium; infidelity; etc. Secondly, all the people who think that not saying or doing anything in public is the solution – really, what’s the difference between this and any other controlling or totalitarian monitering of citizen behaviour? If you have to be constantly on your guard for fear of being mocked or exposed, what kind of a life is that? People don’t have to be shouting or causing a disturbance to be audible to someone else in a public space. They just have to be speaking aloud in a public place. I find this trend pretty disturbing, and I think that the reluctance of most people to think seriously about it is even more worrying.

adromeda says…I didn’t find this funny. It’s very disrespectful. Who hasn’t had a row with somebody that hasn’t gotten even a little bit public for chrissake? This is a very mean thing to do.

No-one seems to think that there’s anything wrong with having a row in public and broadcasting your every embarrassing thought and utterance to the world; instead, they seem to believe that they are the ones behaving perfectly decently, and it’s those  who are listening in who are being that most 2012 of descriptions, ‘disrespecteful’….

Luckily,  this comment pretty much sums up my own view of the subject:

scraggs says…Bloke on the bus was saying things, via his mobile phone, of a VERY personal and intimate nature to (presumably) his girlfriend. We fellow passengers were in no way eavesdropping, he was speaking so loudly that it would have been difficult not to hear or try and block it out. He appeared totally unaware (despite speaking at high volume) of this or the fact that people were feeling uncomfortable, irritated and/or awkward.

Finally someone gave him a nudge and politely suggested that he keep his voice down, to which his response was “DO YOU FUCKING MIND, MATE? THIS IS A PRIVATE CONVERSATION”

Some people have no idea that privacy involves not broadcasting yourself. It seems to me that people have blurred the boundaries between public and private regardless of social networks: mobile phones have a heck of a lot to answer for in terms of public space becoming a sphere for private interaction.

But have we really become a nation of people who forego the ‘stiff upper lip’ for ‘letting it all hang out’? And, if so…is this progress?

Over to you, ‘Orphan’ readers..

7 comments for “A Country Of Emotional Incontinents..?

  1. July 19, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Over to you, ‘Orphan’ readers.

    Total silence?

    • July 20, 2012 at 7:45 am

      I couldn’t get into the site all day yesterday. Give ’em a chance! 🙂

  2. ivan
    July 19, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I can’t say about the UK not living there but in my part of rural France I don’t see much of that.

    Yes, village business may be conducted on the street or the local shop but then it usually concerns everyone anyway.

    We also get the odd loud person on the phone – not of the village so they don’t know the blank spots. Move them to a good reception ares and they usually quieten down without having to be asked.

    What it’s like in Paris I don’t know – last time I was there was 6 years ago.

  3. July 20, 2012 at 3:36 am

    jam3sm says… “You wouldn’t casually take a photo of someone without asking their permission, and you wouldn’t be able to publish it without their permission”

    Bollox, of course you can.

    • July 20, 2012 at 7:46 am

      It’s a common misconception.

    • July 20, 2012 at 8:43 am

      Actually – slightly o/t – I’ve been wondering about all that footage and photo stock repeatedly trotted out in articles and reports on obesity; the faces aren’t shown but clothes and location surely mean that the mid-sections could be recognized by their owners, and perhaps their nearest and dearest.

      Did they ask permission – “Can we use your picture in an article about fat people”? And if not, does anyone make a fuss?

      Or are the broadcasters and editors counting on the fact that nobody is going to complain in public about being used in this way?

  4. Bemused
    July 21, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Not black or white IMO. I could never , in good conscience, tweet, Facebook, publish anything that is obviously a private conversation or act for cheap amusement. I may be old fashioned, as well as actually old, but common courtacy dictates. Do not do to others you would not want done to you.

    That said, some people have no respect for themselves or others and arrogantly behave abismaly in public.

    I am quite saddened at the state of the world.

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