If you were to ask Mr Webster the meaning of the word ‘secret’, he would tell you that it means “Kept from knowledge or view…Marked by the habit of discretion. Perhaps that was true in his day and time (and to some degree, mine) but not any more. If I was asked to define the meaning of ‘secret’ today, I would probably say “Something that has been distributed via electronic media which you have not yet had a chance to share with all your ‘friends’.
I can remember as a kid my Mom saying “can you keep a secret” and of course I always said yes, and frequently, I did. It was kind of an honor thing. I had been trusted with something that others hadn’t and it made me feel kind of special. Then again, if I thought it was something that my brother may not know, all bets were off.
I have had a Facebook and Twitter account for probably six or seven years. I have yet to use the Twitter account at all. The Facebook account is almost purely incoming, and it is because of that incoming data that I will probably never change. As did everyone else, I started with a few ‘friends’ (sorry Mr Webster, it’s not what you think) who, in short order, begat additional friends who, well, you know. Soon, my group of friends was larger then my graduating class and I knew about as many. And then it began. With the exception of a few relatives and real friends (i.e. people that I really know) I was suddenly deluged with more issues then you would find in a country western song. I became a confident to peoples divorces, surgeries, birthdays, protests, rants, rumors, and yes, disclosures of a rather personal nature. There is a woman who ‘updates her profile’ virtually every day and gives a whole new meaning to the word depressed. She could suck the air out of a balloon. I am sure there is a way to unfriend someone, and when I figure it out, she is toast. And if she see’s that, she will probably be even more upset. Not because I dropped her, but because I affected her body count. It all puts me in mind of the old saying ‘it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, then to say something and prove it’.
I guess I am just from another generation. One that believes that there are things you don’t share and subjects that you don’t discuss. Things were a little more personal back then, unless of course your phone was on a party line. My mother, when hanging out the wash, always hung the underwear on the inside clotheslines and the sheets on either side. And although the threats of washing my mouth out with soap never came to fruition, I learned early that there were words I did not use and things that I did not repeat. My folks even went so far as to talk in ‘pig Latin’ if there was something they did not want us to hear.
One thing I have learned from observing all this electronic interface is that people don’t really care what I say or think. They are not out there to share my day. They are out there to share theirs. I’ve been around long enough to remember when you took pictures of other people. Go figure.
It’s probably just as well that I don’t relate a lot of what I am thinking anyway. It would probably make me about as welcome as a hair in a biscuit. And, Mr Webster, if you are ever having trouble finding room to add a word, let me suggest that you could eliminate the word ‘discretion’.