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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Privacy and What's the Wildest Thing You've Ever Done?

The other day two very beautiful girls asked me what was the wildest thing I have ever done. Good opening, eh?

My counter was, "What do you mean by wild?"

Yeah, I'm a spoilsport.

The answer I received was cogent and I liked it a lot: "Something that pushes your boundaries to where normally you would be uncomfortable." So...

A wild experience: an experience that pushes your boundaries beyond your ordinary comfort level.

It deserves a closer look.

In pushing past your boundaries you could push two different kinds of boundaries. Your personal boundaries, and social boundaries. Sometimes they are congruent. In some people, one contains the other, but I'm guessing that's not true for most people. In Japan they have a sense that you have different "circles" for family, work and social responsibilities. These circles aren't nested, they are independent, maybe overlapping, and rarely are they called upon simultaneously. For example, your family may call upon your social duties, but would ignore your possibly conflicting work duties. Rather than trying to restrict any one circle by making them all the same, this society accepts that they are different, and creates ways by which they can remain independent.

Western society has a different approach, one that is tantamount to believing in an Ethos. Because of our need to drive to a single circumscribed and consistent moral worldview, we have issues like forcing our work leaders to have good family and personal values.

Unfortunately, it can't be done. It rubs a billion years of biological evolution the wrong way. To compensate, we sublimate sex instincts, and divert dominance drives into the business world (or pro wrestling, or violent vengeance movies). No wonder why we're so stressed out, trying to put a cork on a billion years of genetic progress!

So what do we do? We invent privacy.

But privacy is a two-edged sword. It may be a right, but it's a dangerous one. David Brin wrote a thoughtful book on this called The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?, generally underrated by most but prized by some.

But it's worse. Not only does privacy give the government untold controls over our freedom, it also gives the worst of society a place to congregate. I'm not saying that we should kill the pedophiles, but I am proposing that we wouldn't have as big an issue with them (in the church, raping children, and so on) if there wasn't as much privacy.

This is a hen-egg issue. As I work behind an Internet pseudo-anonymous identity to post this blog, obviously I care about privacy. But only because society continues to hold people accountable to an unrealistic standard. A standard that is perpetuated in peoples' minds only because of privacy.

So what does this have to do with the question about wild experiences?

I believe that all this is the reason why, nine times out of ten, if you ask a Westerner what is the wildest thing they have done, you will hear a story about sex.

Not that I mind. If I'm hearing two gorgeous girls talking about their wildest experience as a their first lesbian encounter, well, I'm all ears!

But my belief is that sex pops out because the personal and social boundaries are least coupled there due to privacy.

What's the wildest thing I have ever done?

Nothing.

Because I have no boundaries to push. I have very few boundaries at all, and those few that exist don't move.

Don't even try.

I told you I was a spoilsport!

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't have any boundaries, wouldn't it by wild to try one? I think boundaries are constraints, such as a physical constraint or an arbitrary commitment to a type of behavior, and they force one to act creatively in order to stay inside the boundary (even if you are pushing them.) This can be very uncomfortable, and can produce very very wild behavior, even though the boundary might not be "native" to who you are. Wild, for me, means anything very far outside your normal range of sensory experience.

6/22/2004 2:06 PM  
Blogger Sigmund said...

Drugs?

7/06/2004 11:31 PM  

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