Have you ever been skinny-dipping? It’s just about the best feeling in the world: fretless, grin-in-your-skin freedom.
I was 11 years old and taking a bare dip in my backyard pool when I heard rustling in the neighbors’ tree and realized their pre-teen son was spying on me. Outraged and embarrassed, I skittered inside to tell my mother. I’ve never forgotten what she said:
“Eh, let him look. Why should he stop you from being at ease in your own yard? Don’t give him that power.”
The notion was radical — that I could simply choose not to feel violated by such an invasion of privacy. That I could disregard the peeping perv and refuse to waste energy guarding the confidential information his little eyeballs were gathering for who-knows-what degenerate purpose.
I’ve summoned that outlook countless times since then — when the tampon drops from my purse during a business lunch, the pharmacy clerk loudly inquires about my rash, and the neighbors hear me yelling at my kids. Eh, I think. Let ’em look.
But it’s harder than it used to be.
From the auto-fill feature in our Web browsers to the cameras installed at stoplights, our privacy is receding faster than a naked girl can scramble from the deep end of an exposed swimming pool into the folds of a blessed towel. And there’s more at stake than just a pre-adolescent fanny flash.