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Recently a Facebook friend lamented about his privacy having been breeched in an area he deemed “none of your business”. To me, the fact that he announced it on Facebook was ironic. Moreover, he, whether he intended to or not, probably moved a few of his friends to take a moment to find out what all the fuss was about. After all, what’s five minutes if you know where and how to look?

Not smart. Not smart at all.

privacyWhich leads me to ask, what is private? Not much, but this is not a recent occurrence. Our privacy has been diminishing since the 1930s and now it’s easier than ever to find out most anything you’d like about someone; particularly the stuff you would prefer not be found out.

If you are interested in a house, you can find out whatever you’d like, including all the owners, major improvements (that have been legally done), and how much it is worth. You can also find out about foreclosures, sheriff sales, and whether someone was killed or died badly in the home. It’s all part of disclosure and most, if not all is free for the asking (or googling).

If you want to hire someone, or even if you are merely curious, you can find out if someone tends to break the law, whether they pay their bills, or if their resume is accurate. That information is also mostly free, or available for a small fee.

So how do you keep that information from prying eyes? Newsflash! The commoner has never been able to do that. It’s nearly impossible to do it now.

For example, recently I had someone, who fancied himself a troll, trying to engage me on Twitter in a discussion he obviously had no experiential knowledge about. His was a philosophy based on his own world view, which didn’t necessarily line up with the facts and reality of the situation. I pointed that out to him. So he tried to wow me with his credentials, which (unfortunately for him) were overstated. How did I find that out? I googled him and found his profile on Linked In. I had just enough information to be able to find him in under 5 minutes. Another five and I could have run a poor man’s background check. Scary? Heck yes. Nevertheless I stopped him dead in his tracks and hope he learned something like: It’s really a bad idea to lie about your credentials when you are going to seminary. UPDATE: This person truly is a creep. I’ve blocked him on Twitter and he tries to leave a comment here about how he doesn’t do Twitter often and that I didn’t stop him. Duh. Try not doing it at all. The world will get along just fine.

Back to my Facebook friend with the privacy issues. It will do no good to suggest to him that the best way to protect one’s privacy is to have nothing in one’s past that has gotten one arrested or sued. It’s too late for that. However, the next best thing is to avoid arousing curiosity. It’s also a bit late for that. But the real kicker in the whole thing is that he’s blaming someone for nosing in what he thinks is his business alone; business which exposes him as a liar and a hypocrite when compared to his stated values. Having that bit of background adds a certain context into everything he says.You can almost see the stories he tells himself to avoid the cognitive dissonance. For me, it just adds an entertainment factor to everything he says.