Some forget to respect our choices. Some confuse this (mistakenly or maliciously), thinking they can make this choice for others.

Recently, an inappropriately enthusiastic woman recorded a stranger’s budding romance on a plane. Surprisingly, many users on social media, both commoners and companies, were applauding the stream of live-tweets as a cutting-edge entertainment piece. Unsurprisingly, the woman, unknowingly recorded as the protagonist in this strange series, released a statement asking for people to respect her privacy.

The anonymous woman shouldn’t have had to ask for her privacy. People shouldn’t have harassed her into sating their warped curiosity over her personal affairs. She said she was “doxxed, shamed, insulted and harassed” following this incident, while her personal information, including her address, has been publicly revealed. The anonymous woman was shoved into a voyeuristic orgy, one without her consent or awareness.

Why would someone think it’s okay to record someone like this, invading their privacy and revealing their identity in such a way? Looking through the comments collected in the article, it looks like some believe it’s acceptable to claim anything in the public as their own work of art, including someone’s identity. This is both dangerous and dishonorable.

Storytellers almost never rely exclusively on their imagination for their art. Every story is founded on some truth. The proper thing to do here is to play the piece as a work of fiction. Authors and filmmakers put this disclaimer on many of their works, even changing the names of their characters and their ideologies.

The woman recording this real event is also telling a story, and one that’s attracted many listeners. Storytelling is a natural, beautiful art, one that I enjoy very much. Where it is wrong is not her capture of a story, but her exploitation of another’s identity for the sake of pure “entertainment” (rather than “justice,” as is often an alternative, trickier case).  There is no need to include identifying details to tell an entertaining story.   If she wanted to share her story as an art, she could have easily done what authors have done for centuries (if not millennia): tell the story, make up the details.

A comment that disturbed me was one that suggests, because this group-gawking is something we always do to celebrities, it’s not something we should become so overworked with now. This comment reveals what some passive-aggressively believe about popular culture. I agree that many people treat celebrities like this, but I severely disagree that it is something that should be accepted. Celebrities should also be free to choose their privacy and not have it invaded. Yet, that is something they have a bit more control over. They have more resources to reinforce their choices. What about everyone else?

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