When is Private Actually Private?

When we were discussing Strong’s,  The Diaries and Thoreau’s, “Letters from Staten Island”, a major topic was about what made these reading’s different,  which, as we discussed, was that they were supposed to be private.  And it made me think, what would Strong and Thoreau think if they knew that their thoughts and observations were made completely public after their deaths. Their words, meant only for themselves or close friends, is now available in one easy to buy book, that has already been read by thousands of people.  How did it happen? Strong’s diary was actually found and he had been writing in it since he was 15, that’s almost 40 years of private thoughts and embarrassing ideas!  “Extensively studied” and “used as reference” were some of the more popular phrases in my Google search so would Strong have been proud? Or uncomfortable? And the same with Thoreau’s letters.

I personally don’t write in a diary or even write personal letters to my friends/family members but if I knew that other people could read my personal thoughts and opinions, I’d be mortified.  This same situation happened in class: when asked to share their letters, no one volunteered (surprise, surprise).  The popular excuse was that, “it was private,” and it probably was for the person that wrote it.  But some people did have to read theirs because it was a class discussion.  So it brings up the question, “when is private actually private”?

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