While driving along a rural highway this week, my thoughts became centered on the topic of privacy. This is something I think about frequently these days because of all the revelations about the lack of it we endure every day, lately.
I belong to a very small pack of lone wolves. I don’t know what else to call the scattered, loose grouping of friends who do not interact, nor know one another as a a social collection or entity in the usual sense. The “pack” is a convenient term I, alone, use when I think about the like-minded guys I keep in contact with.
In North America, there is an old schoolmate who lives in Toronto; another lone wolf is in Vancouver; a special one in Phoenix; two of them in San Francisco; an old roommate in western North Dakota; and one who lives on a mountain near Ciudad de Monterrey in Mexico. In Europe, I have a lone-wolf “buddy” near Amsterdam and one in Munich. In Asia, there’s the expatriate friend who lives in the middle of Mumbai; and a family member, by marriage, who lives near the “Golden Triangle” in Thailand.
In my fantasies, someday all of us will meet together at a milestone birthday party for one of us. Maybe then, all of us will finally assemble as a group. By definition, this party will likely never occur. To a man, we are rather reserved and deeply treasure our solitude.
While we may be employed in a conventional job at a company or otherwise are a member of some group, we tend not to take part in many activities of that group unless those activities are mandatory. We prefer to work alone because our creativity is highest when we are able to enjoy solitary worktime apart from other “team members”.
As you can imagine, lone wolves rank privacy near the top of our list of priorities. For whatever reason, privacy is as good as gold to us. Even if we attain some measure of public celebrity, our personal lives are completely off-limits. You might argue that privacy is very important to most everyone on Earth. But to lone wolves, it’s very much more so.
There is a wide-spread stereotype about lone wolves being notorious criminals. This unfortunate label became popular in the 1990s. Far-rightwing, white supremacist Tom Metzger became infamous for his ideological advocacy. He founded the “White Aryan Resistance, WAR”, was a Neo-Nazi, and was a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Metzger advocated the radical conservative “leaderless resistance” or “lone wolf” style of extremism. He thought working outside of above-ground membership organizations was the best strategy. But because of his KKK credentials, I disqualify him as a lone wolf.
Tom Metzger and his ilk are unrepresentative of lone wolves, as a whole. Most of us carry no grudges and find no attraction to radical politics nor crime of any variety. We find the type-casting of the lone wolf as criminal to be very troubling. Basically, we are society’s free agents. We belong to society on our own terms. I suppose this independence is a major reason we’ve been branded negatively. We need an advocacy group. However, few of us would ever join one.
Most people believe that privacy is a meaningful, valuable concept. A person might describe privacy as focusing control over information about oneself. Other people expand that view into a universal human need that helps ensure human dignity.
Recent disclosures by Edward Snowden have highlighted the huge challenges to privacy posed by the corporate state that are menacing most civilized people on Earth these days. The total disregard that corporations and governments have shown is not only troubling to average people but is even more so to lone wolves.
The future presents an anxious scenario, if we don’t soon place enforceable limits on the lack of privacy and the ability of interconnectivity to track our every move, society, as we know it, will not long exist.
For instance, refrigerators connected to the Internet will be common. Our eating patterns will be known to companies. We’ll be reminded to restock our staple foods. We’ll also be subjected to the same type of “targeted” marketing that we endure when we surf the Web. No matter where we go, there will be personalized advertising aimed at us from “smart” billboards that “read” our phones as we walk or drive nearby.
Already, our phones know where we are, thanks to GPS. The same for many of our motor vehicles. We may soon live in a world where it will be illegal to shut off or disable the tracking functions imbedded in them. I can imagine a world where nobody can “get away from it all”. Somebody or something will always know where we are and probably what we’re doing at all times. George Orwell would be absolutely horrified. I don’t see this trend reversing or halting anytime soon.
I do see that lone wolves will be valiantly continuing our efforts to maintain private space and privacy. I’m guessing that it will be a lone wolf who finds a satisfactory détente between the overzealous connectivity demanded by corporate-governmental agencies and the human need for privacy. Everyone’s privacy rights are on the chopping block, so the need for action is urgent.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to monitor and advocate in favor of privacy as a member of the loosely defined pack of lone wolves.
The Blue Jay of Happiness hopes we remember the wisdom of Fyodor Dostoevsky, who wrote: “Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.”