In the digital age, privacy is a priority. We have legitimate concerns about our privacy online, the security and privacy of our financial records and accounts, and how much Big Brother knows about us. There are precautions we can take on these issues, and most of us try to be diligent.
A privacy safeguard that many people never think about is more obvious, and much more public: the choices we make when we buy things. Our purchases tell people so much about us, if we aren’t careful.
An extreme example would be the assault and robbery of a famous reality television star in her Paris hotel room that occurred not too long ago. For years, she’d tweeted and posted photos of her glamorous lifestyle and off-the-charts jewelry. It was saddening, and but not surprising when professional thieves ambushed her, took her jewelry and other valuables, and left her tied up in the bathtub. (Sad, because I never want anyone to suffer, but not a surprise because, well, it just wasn’t.)
You have the same options with your purchases and what you show, or don’t show, to the public. If you show nothing, people know nothing. They can speculate that you were raised well by the vocabulary use and the manners you exhibit. They can imagine that you have good taste as they size up a classic, quality wardrobe that changes little over time. But they will, in the end, probably have little real idea about the money you do or do not have just bey looking at you.
Good. This is a real advantage, not just for those of you trying to avoid the attention of criminals: people will most likely judge you for who you are, not what you have. Merit and sincerity will trump material possessions and ‘status’, whatever that is. People will be more curious about the book you’re reading rather than the label you’re wearing. Conversations will center around current events and ideas, rather than gossip and shopping.
Friends of mine who’ve ditched the latest fashions and sold the expensive sports cars have commented on the slow, subtle, but very rewarding shift in their lives: they attract less immediate attention from the public, but more enduring relationships from fewer, more interesting people. They’ve also learned no small amount about themselves.
As one of the commented recently, tongue firmly planted in cheek, “Being private can be so revealing.”