“On one hand access to more is terrific, more info, more options, more entertainment, more flexibility, fewer gatekeeping restrictions….. on the other hand, access to more is like a train wreck of distasteful and tacky come to town, hell bent on leaving it’s mark and lifting its skirt…a lost weekend of things we just really don’t need to know…but some how…watch anyway…”–Janice Cartier
The conversations around transparency have been rich with examples and thoughtful insights. As Janice Cartier, so colorfully observed, a little too much transparency can make us all blush with shame even as we continue to watch in abject horror.
For some this kind of transparency has become a brand that they have leveraged with success. There are many who put it all on full display, and continue to command attention, while others lose position when we get even a peek behind half closed blinds.
It is clear that there is no universal standard for transparency. We want to pull down the curtain and see the wizard in certain areas and in others we’d rather continue to believe in magic.
In The Transparent Leader, authors Herb Baum and Tammy Kling address transparency in business. They share case studies and successes from companies that developed an “open culture.” Transparency did not equate to “telling it all” but honestly communicating at all levels about issues related to the company. The book acknowledged that business leaders must balance that openness with a certain amount of filtering.
Heather Villa shared how she filters her own open communication:
“I won’t talk about my religious beliefs, my political views, my intimate relationships, or anything else highly controversial or personal. I believe those types of discussions are meant for your immediate family (if not completely personal) and is ‘too much’ transparency.”
Heather is a business owner active in social media. She shares business and personal information but has wisely developed filters for her transparency. In her case, she realizes that too much transparency can be polarizing and may damage current and prospective relationships with customers.
From those in positions of power, we demand a higher standard of excellence. We take joy in the glimpses of transparency but if the blinds are opened too far we lose respect for their position. We like to think of them as “everyman” or “everywoman” but we don’t want them to prove it.
“We have all the tools to publish what happens at every moment in our lives, but we lack the wisdom and experience to edit all that rough draft and make something interesting.”– Jamie Grove
“…airing our dirty laundry to everyone is a little dangerous, and possibly a little over-indulgent.”–Conor
Jamie and Conor aptly point out that exercising a little editing with our transparency is wise. We really don’t have to tell it all. We can tell what is relevant, and even share a little that’s not, but exposing it all can be dangerous and alienating and as Conor noted a little over-indulgent.
Fred Schlegel offered a chilling reality: “Since there really is no way to limit what is public about our lives, we must put in place rules on how the more powerful entities use that info. Sorry to get all George Orwell on ya, but the public info is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Perhaps some believe that they will take charge of the illusion of privacy by ripping down their own veil. I know what’s behind that curtain and I’m determined to hang on to the false illusion of a little mystery for as long as I possibly can.
Does the amount of information shared change your level of respect for a person? Is the boundary the same for everyone or does it depend on other factors?