Private sphere endangered?

By Laure Maron

During the class of May 17th, we discussed the distinction Habermas, a German philosopher, made between two kinds of spheres: the public sphere and the private sphere. Private sphere is defined as being places where we are free to do whatever we want while public sphere is composed of all places that are used by different people at the same time and so, that must be free from ideologies and personal issues (including emotions and offensive religious signs) to be able to live in harmony and in a democratic society.

Nevertheless, the distinction between those two spheres becomes more and more blurred and it seems like our occidental ancestors’ efforts to make the private sphere become a fundamental right to everyone were in vain. Indeed, nowadays we can see more and more people displaying their private life to everyone, some of them even being ready to turn themselves ridiculous or endangering their own life in order to get other people’s attention and get their own “fifteen minutes of fame”.

(See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gg8Ne5NhG2Y&feature=related for example).

[The expression “fifteen minutes of fame” was first used by Andy Warhol in 1968 when he said that ‘In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’ and it is now widely used to refer to figures in the entertainment industry or other areas of popular culture, such as reality TV and YouTube.]

Moreover, more and more of our personal information that should remain part of our private sphere are made public and most of the time, we can avoid it. People give too often and too easily information about themselves, without even thinking this information could be used for different purposes than those that were claimed and that sometimes it could be bad for their own freedom.

In conclusion, we have to keep in mind that our freedom is very important and precious, and once what should have remained in our private sphere does not anymore, this freedom is threatened. Living 15 minutes of fame is not worth giving up one’s freedom.

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One Response to Private sphere endangered?

  1. petjollisas says:

    We could asked ourselves if it’s a unfavorable development that the distinction between the private sphere and the public sphere is becoming more and more blurred. In some cases we could say that it’s a good phenomenon. Among other things the course last Tuesday made me wonder how the world would look like if there was no such thing as private space. What if we never had a own room in that what we call a house? It might be interesting to investigate what private space in a pour village in Africa means and what the difference is between public sphere there and public sphere in a village in the Netherlands.

    In addition fifteen minutes of fame as Andy Warhol came up with, could also be seen as something that brings on good changes in society. For instance take a look at the following tv commercial publicized on Internet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x17hgw_HGcE Video’s like this could create public awareness and could stimulate discussion and communication. Free speech, which Habermas seemed to be advocating. In this case problems within the public sphere could be exposed. Besided woman could become aware that they can draw a line for themselves between public and private sphere.

    Written by: Jolein Selen

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