La Vie Privee

This is the second installment of a series of posts addressing the issue of Privacy.

As one of the Core Values I articulated in The Old Money Book, Privacy is essential to living a full, rewarding life. You just can’t have your business in the street.

One of the French sayings I think I’ve mentioned in the past, no doubt minted by a Parisian, is ‘To live well, live in secret.’ Most of your life should be free from the inspection of others. It’s easier to listen to your inner voice. It’s easier to consider your options. It’s easier to make sound decisions. It’s easier to change your mind. It’s easier to avoid envy. It’s easier to avoid undue influence.

With all these merits, still, secrecy in the modern world seems almost impossible. The best we can hope for is to maintain our privacy. Even that may appear a daunting task as our lives and personal information have migrated onto the internet. Our most personal details appear to be nesting there permanently, out of our control for the most part, and, like low-hanging fruit, waiting to be cherry-picked by those who would use it to profit at our expense.

Privacy, however, is at the core of independence. It is a cornerstone of liberty. For if someone knows what you’re reading, writing, and thinking all the time, they can more easily control you. (China, Russia.) So your ‘personal information’ (your search history, your financial history, your political leanings, your online purchases, etc) becomes the high-value target in this war.

From this perspective, it’s important to see your personal data as an asset. Tech companies certainly do. They use your information to tailor the search results you see online and the ads you see on social media, to advertise products and services to you at every turn, and to influence your opinion. The only problem is: the intellectual property their using to do this–your personal information–is not rightfully theirs to use. Unless you consciously or negligently consent and allow them to continue using it.

These companies make money by tracking you online, compiling personal information, and then selling it to companies who want to market things to you and, perhaps more dangerously, by offering it to governments who want to monitor and shape your opinion, and limit your perceived choices.

You may already know this, and I’m sure some readers know more about it than I do. (Feel free to comment and share as always, leaving conspiracy theories and politics at the door.)

My suspicion is that, in the long run, when a majority of Americans realize what the online business model really is, and how companies are using our personal assets to make billions, while we get nothing in return–and sacrifice our privacy–the proverbial worm will turn. This will benefit us personally, and our society collectively. The immediate benefit to this awareness is the ability to live more of an Old Money life, in which Privacy is sacred.

So become more aware. Look into the movement to Own Your Data. See your personal information for the treasure it is.

  • BGT

8 thoughts on “La Vie Privee

  1. What the sellers and advertisers would say is this: We don’t want to waste our money and your time showing you ads for things you have no interest in and would never buy. By tailoring the ads to things we think you will be interested in, we can inform you of products and services we think you will want to know about and that you might decide to purchase. It is counterproductive for us to annoy you with ads for things you would never consider purchasing.

    That’s their side of it, anyway. Frankly, it doesn’t seem completely unreasonable.

  2. Reading you reminds me of listening to my Papa through the years. He too was an erudite and quiet gentleman. Thank you sir. May you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy in this difficult season. Best Regards, Jan

    1. Thanks, Jan. You’re very kind. I appreciate your good thoughts. We’re doing fine here, and I hope you and yours weather this storm without any problems. – BGT

      1. Thank you for your note! And – may I briefly add something else because it’s been on mind so much recently i.e. people being suddenly laid off without money -even to feed their families.

        One of my father’s monthly habits and without fail was to have me take him to the bank. He would withdraw $500 in cash and – always – take it in twenties for $300 of it and ten dollar bills for the other $ 200 of it. It was his ‘monthly stash’ and he was determined to ‘spend it’ on anyone willing to put in some labor and /or a little effort. He would (sometimes I’m sure) contrive chores around the house/grounds. And he would make sure that the grandkids would ‘spread the word’. He had the kids clean the garages, basements, toolsheds and greenhouse. He had them build raised rose gardens and flower beds. He had them install fountains. He had them landscape the grounds and plant gardens and flowers – All – under his delighted supervision of course. Keep in mind – that many of the grandkids were friends with kids with only one parent to support them. What a Blessing for everyone! It gave him the joy of mentoring while at the same time providing some measure of cash to a struggling parent. And of course, the house was always overflowing with food in the kitchen at all times so that even if the ‘chore’ required only an hour or so –“come on in kids – we have to stop and have something to eat” time.

        I also know for a fact (even though only second hand) that when the grandkids were in college and – though working part time jobs – if one of them came up short at the last minute — —— need I say more? The money was freely given and never expected to be returned. My favorite line (because – yes – this quiet man did pass on his generosity–gene to me – is – and to give you the context – we lived in a huge house directly across from an enormous park – my favorite line in life is ‘Don’t MAKE me chase you across the park to make you take this money (to help you out) because YOU KNOW I’LL DO IT!

        I can’t help but wonder how at least some of the suffering in the world today couldn’t be solved or even assuaged with this kind of giving spirit for those in daily need due to no fault of their own. How can a person step up? By what means can any of us responsibly answer the needs of those families who are suddenly and genuinely hurting at this time?

        Do you have any thoughts? Is there an answer to this miasma?

        I’d truly like to hear what you think i.e. DON’T MAKE ME CHASE YOU ACROSS THE PARK ………….

        Many thanks sir!

      2. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story, Jan. My thought on this subject–at this critical time–is to keep it personal and keep it private. No one knows the immediate needs of another person as well as a family member, a friend or a colleague. To provide any amount of assistance, in whatever form, during a difficult time is the mark of true humanity.

        I’d welcome the thoughts of others on this topic, too. Thanks again. – BGT

      3. Your words have lifted my burden of confusion and indecision. Thanks to you, I now have some clarity and understanding along with a new path to follow. Thank you kind sir! JanB

  3. Dear Byron,

    what billions are you talking about? I hope you do not believe in digital illusion. Just look at these billions, where are they?

    open search engine – several windows – one is searching screwdriver for left-handed, the other one plays something stupid with volume down, next one is searching for banana smell color for Bentley, …… just make them stupid. Ask search engine a stupid question in Chinese language – gtranslate …… and while search engine is working you do your job. What adds will you receive?

    The majority of Americans should rather realize how money is created.

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