Tuesday, 20 February 2018Nowadays, if something is not transparent, it must be that someone is hiding something—and this is frowned upon.
But what if it were the proponents of transparency at all costs who are wrong?
For the past few years, the calls for transparency have been endless. In the eyes of some, nothing will ever be transparent enough; they insist that we appoint supervisors to oversee the supervisors, believing that this is the only way for justice to prevail. For transparency fundamentalists, nothing is too transparent. They forget Aristotle's maxim that deficiency and excess are both vices. In other words, in the case of transparency as in anything else, too much is as bad as not enough. Is there such a thing as too much transparency? Yes, there is. Transparency can be escalated to the point of making us worthless. Here is a demonstration.
In this time of self-exhibition, Pessoa would say that dying is not being seen. However, we must make some distinctions: although transparency has its usefulness, it calls for making known what should be known; excessive transparency requires showing everything at all times, leaving no place for privacy, the genesis of ideas and even imagination. In fact, transparency is the opposite of imagination. When we see everything, we can’t imagine anything more. When it reaches this point, transparency becomes obscene.
Since the dawn of time, to be human, we have needed privacy, secrets, and a certain fragility belonging to us alone. The way things seem to be going, soon, no one will need to be forced to reveal this intimacy: all will already have begun to make it public of their own volition. This is called Facebook.
After baring themselves in order to persuade others that they exist, some balk if employers view their profiles and judge their conduct, having forgotten, before posting private photos, that privacy should remain private and that social media is a public space.
Transparency has imposed a kind of tyranny instead of being the good thing it was supposed to be at the outset. Transparency is the new word for saying "discipline." Everything that is not transparent is denounced.
Yet, transparency and truth are not synonymous. An aggregate of information is not necessarily truth. Transparency shows but does not speak. Transparency is devoid of the ambiguity that enables reflection, creativity, thought, and humanity.
What is lacking nowadays is not showing everything that seems to be hidden, but rather reflecting on what is important. Critical thinking is quietly disappearing while we are busy shining light everywhere.
Meanwhile, it has become obvious that we live in a paradoxical society that is implementing structures designed to protect privacy while requiring transparency in everything.
Yet, on Facebook and Instagram, nobody values privacy: they invite Big Brother into their homes! Instead of the danger that he once was, Big Brother has now become a Facebook friend.
Just as Winston Smith did in 1984, we can now say "I love Big Brother.”
I am transparent.
No thoughts are my own.
I imagine nothing that cannot be observed.
The transparent human is the new inmate.
I love Big Brother.