Over the years, my hometown has produced some big celebrities: Charlton Heston, Bill Murray, and Ann Margaret to name a few. Younger and hipper stars are actor Rainn Wilson of TV’s The Office, and rock band Fall Out Boy bassist, Pete Wentz. Wentz, 28, announced his engagement to pop singer Ashley Simpson a few weeks ago. This mildly interesting tidbit hit my radar in an unexpected way that made me realize how much my notion of privacy has changed.
My involvement came through a friend of a friend, like the game “Five Degrees of Separation.” My buddy Tammy* has a high school pal, Shelly*, who writes for People Magazine. Shelly was assigned a story on the hometown reaction to the Wentz/Simpson engagement. Tammy circulated Shelly’s email asking if anyone knew the Wentz family and would agree to be interviewed. While I've never met the Wentzs myself, I do have another friend, Jennifer*, who knows the family well. So, trying to be helpful to Tammy, I shot Jennifer an email.
My email went something like: “Hey Jen, I know you’re friends with the Wentzs – any interest in being interviewed for People Mag for local reactions on P & A’s engagement? Could be fun!”
Cause everybody wants to get into People - don’t they? Not so much. Jennifer made it clear that she would never consider violating the Wentzs’ privacy. Her tactful but firm reply made me think about what I’d really asked her to do.
Hmm, I guess I can see how you might not want to expose your friends to media scrutiny, especially when it’s about a personal matter like their son’s engagement. Real friends probably don’t exploit relationships for personal gain or to get their picture or name into a national magazine.
I felt kind of like a loser. Why hadn't I thought of that beforehand?
It’s because I blog. Even though I’ve only been blogging for a few months, I’ve come to accept a loss of privacy as the norm. Friends have said, “I read your blog, you’re so brave.” Brave? I haven’t written anything all that revealing. Oh sure, I’ve discussed my fantasies, sex life, skin problems, parenting issues, and character flaws - but nothing personal.
I don’t have the clearest idea of what should be kept private anymore. With the prevalence of the Internet, this is an issue we all will have to negotiate. If your view of privacy has changed recently, please share your story.
And feel free to use a pseudonym.
*Names changed to make sure my friends don’t get mad at me.