On Sunday, legendary actress Jodie Foster received a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globe Awards. Much ado has been made of her sincere (and lengthy) acceptance/coming out speech. Tucked between her big reveal, and her advice on how to survive in Hollywood (or any treacherous environment) and what sounded like a retirement announcement, was a dropped gem that few picked up on:

“Privacy. Someday, in the future, people will look back and remember how beautiful it once was.”

A few weeks ago, someone wrote into my Formspring page and asked me what I thought of people who only talked about the best or functional parts of their life and left out the worst and dysfunctional. She wondered too, if not airing dirty laundry was cause to call someone a “stunt queen.” The tone of the question hinted that there was something wrong with a person for keeping some mystery about themselves or just keeping their business out of the street.

My response was something like, ‘I think a person who doesn’t tell all their business is smart. Unless it’s a close friend, why should they be divulging their dirty secrets and deepest hurts just because?”

That seems to be a rare outlook. There are more current or ex-groupie tell-all books than anyone can count, and countless women clamoring to sign up for reality shows that exploit the worst parts of their lives. Anyone on late-night Twitter has been witness to the oversharing of lonely folk with no one to talk to so they tipsy tweet instead of drunk dial. Apparently there are still people who use Facebook for more than an online photo album and since they aren’t limited to 140 characters in their status updates, they’re known to go all emo about their frustrations with their partner, (or the partner they wish they had). Oh and in bafflingly bad judgment, they write about the current job they can’t stand.

Perhaps you’ve born witness to the friend who puts her whole life on Instagram, seemingly not understanding that if she were really having the fun that she wants everyone who sees her pictures to think she’s having, she wouldn’t be standing around taking pictures of herself, interrupting her friends (or strangers) to take pictures of her and uploading and formatting pics all night.

No matter how many articles are written, reminding and warning people of their Internet imprint and how it lasts forever-ever, some folk just can’t stop themselves from spilling the beans. It might be fun or funny to overshare in the moment, but too many people forget that most of the folks they tell their loose business to are either laughing at them or just stockpiling the information to one day use against them. That’s just kind of the world we live in.

Privacy. Practice it. We shouldn’t wait until the future to appreciate it. By then it will be too late.

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life”  (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk

  • Sasha

    This is so insightful. There’s so much I want to say but I don’t want to sit here and write a dissertation in the comments section so I’ll briefly bullet point my thoughts:

    -I’m 25 so I can barely remember a time when this oversharing wasn’t the norm but I’m always left baffled, shocked and embarrased for people who put ALL of their business on Facebook. Its understandable for a teenager to do it or even college aged young adults but at a certain age that type of behavior needs to end.
    -I’m on instagram so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing pictures for example a quick picture before you go out however when you’re at a venue and you’re standing there taking pictures or on your phone all night texting, Tweeting, Facebooking, instagramming or whatever else, not only is it rude but you probably should have stayed home.
    -its good to have a healthy self-esteem and sense of worth but what I’ve seen with the growth of social media is extreme ego inflation to the point of narcissism and its really unattractive. I’m disgusted by the fact that so many people think they have “haters” nowadays. The word is so stupid and elementary that I have made it a point to exclude it from my vocabularly. I do not have a single “hater” and I believe that 96% of the people who use that term or claim to have “haters” do not in fact have a single one.

    Privacy is so so golden. I was raised to believe that certain behavior is shameful and not only is it to not be tolerated but it is something that one shouldn’t showcase for the world to see. I don’t think many people were raised with the same outlook so not only are they unashamed of their behavior, its something they showcase with pride.

  • Trueletterson

    Big lie, stupid and phony if she value privacy why would she put her business in the streets, we would not know her practice, sexual orientation or what she do if she kept it to herself! Why do they call it “coming out” if they wanted privacy, wake up and stop being fools these people want the attention if they didn’t they would not put their business out in the public. They are not to be admired they need counseling.

  • Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    I truly value my privacy and am not in constant need of attention, nor do I seek validation from other people!!!!

  • trueletterson

    Me to I agree with you but Jodie Foster did and at the same time claim she value privacy, go figure.

  • Ooh La La

    Everything you said. +1

    Over-sharing and overall indecency is out of control.

  • myblackfriendsays

    I often wonder what it is like to be a teenager growing up in the age of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Teenage self-centeredness + lack of frontal lobe development + social media just seems like a really bad combination.

  • Cocochanel31

    Sasha said it best when she said the word narcisstic!! This society has become overrrlly narcissitic with social media ..this look at me look at me culture is disgusting. I give props to those that have manged to stay away and not get sucked in.

  • Mademoiselle

    I think privacy needs to be practiced for both the bad AND the good information about yourself. I often hear people go on about privacy when it has to do with people oversharing the embarrassing details, but oversharing your glory can sometimes be just as harmful. Celebrate with the people that matter. Cry on the shoulders of the people who’ve proven they can support you. Leave the generic and inconsequential stuff for the public. (Note: the people that matter, the people with supportive shoulders, and the public are not interchangeable.)

  • Ugh

    You seem to be a tad bit obtuse. The woman was with a her ex-partner for 14 years, did you hear her talk about it? Did you see her exclaim that she was gay for the past…I dunno know…30 some odd years? NO. You missed the whole point of her speech because you are so blinded by your own homophobia. So, let me summarize it for you…

    She addressed her sexuality in a subtle way because people have pushed her to talk about it. She has never wanted to, because she is generally a private person. Which, by all accounts , is very true. We never really see her and she turns down most films. The only reason why she even alluded to her sexuality during this speech, was because people were (as I stated before) pushing her to do so, and two, because she didn’t want her silence to be perceived as her being ashamed of who she is.

    And gay people come out of the closet because it is incredibly important for people to realize that we are just human beings. We are as nice, as mean, as talented, as untalented, as generous, as stingy, as religious, as agnostic, as fabulous and as unfabulous as everyone else. Young gay people who contemplate blowing their brains out need to see people like Jodie Foster and even people like me, who are grown adults who have to deal with the kind of ignorance that you displayed in your comment, need to see that yes, it does get better and you can be successful and be just as accomplished as Jodie Foster AND be gay.

    That was the point. And that’s why gay people come out. Don’t think we would have accomplished any of the things we have in the past 20 years if we weren’t out. It is harder to marginalize the visible and much easier to stigmatize and dehumanize the invisible.

  • speakseehearnoevil

    Its all too much! Its enough that our medical records are made public and etc. Dont give people ammunition to make your life miserable. Silence is golden.

  • Ugh

    *I responded to this earlier and it never showed up- I apologize if it is a re-post*

    People like you so often miss the point of gestures like Jodie Foster’s because you are so blinded by your hatred of gay people.

    Jodie Foster is 50 years old and has never really been desperate for media attention. Do you ever hear or see her do anything? Is she at parties. Is she dating 20 yr olds is she half naked every day. No. She doesn’t even make that many movies anymore, by choice may I add. She is always poked and prodded into getting back in the game. And the woman is a legend. She has always been known to be private.

    Here’s the point of her speech (cause you obviously missed it): She hasn’t talked about her sexuality publicly because it was not that important to her. In her speech she made it clear that she had faced some criticism for never speaking about her sexuality and she made it clear that she didn’t speak about it cause she’s private but she acknowledges during the speech that so many people thought it would be meaningful for her to stand up and be counted. That’s why she alluded to it. She didn’t even really address it directly.

    The woman was with her partner for 14 years before they broke up. And she has been gay all her life, and now, at 50, you are accusing her of trying to grab attention. So, she didn’t grab attention for her sexuality for 30 plus years and now you are suggesting that she is just now hungry for attention (especially considering that she’s pretty much a hollywood recluse). I mean, think through the stuff that you say.

    Gay people come out so that people can see that we are just like everyone else. Just as obnoxious. Just as awesome. Just as funny. Just as unfunny. Just as talented. Just as untalented.Just like everyone else. They come out to fight the kind of prejudice that people like you spew. They come out so that gay people are visible and people realize that we are their friends, their brothers, their sisters, their aunts, uncles, sorority sisters, fraternity brothers, daughters, sons, fathers and mothers. And we come out because there are young gay people and even older gay people who need to realize that they can lead happy and fulfilled lives and that they are not alone.

    I can’t wait for the day when people don’t have to come out. But, until that day, more power to all the people, like Jodie Foster, who have the strength and fortitude to combat mindsets like yours every. single. day. of their lives.

  • M.M.S.

    Sadly, this is the world we live in. Even when I partake in social media I hold myself back. I have to. I don’t think it’s kosher to post every part of your life online. I have young relatives who share their entire lives — sadly it’s the girls, my male relatives who are 19-24 seem far more concerned with getting girls on facebook than sharing every single detail of their life. I feel for parents. I feel for society and I think Jodie’s point about privacy was right on time.

    As to Jodie speaking about privacy and also revealing what the world already knew – that she’s gay, is to underscore her point. If you re-watch her speech she was basically saying, while there were rumors about my sexuality, for 38 years no one knew for sure, and guess what, I already came-out, but I didn’t have to tell people, they knew. — that’s what I got from her. It was like see I kept my business out the streets and oh yeah, I’m gay not in a I’M COMING OUT, announcement, or as this big deal, people already knew without me being forced to say if I was or wasn’t. – That’s what I took from that part of her speech.

    Re-watch the entire thing. She’s not a hypocrite, she’s underscoring the need for privacy with a personal antidote, well I think.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    i do wish there would be at least some certain occasions where american women would cover their naked flesh…

  • Since1989

    Social media allows ordinary people to become sort of like quasi celebrities. Look at me, think about me, celebrate me, congratulate me, Follow me!! Narcissitic it is.

  • Leo the Yardie Chick

    ^Tell me about it. I shudder to think what high school would have been like if I had been born in the 1990s. I missed all that craziness by a hair (and AMEN for that!).

  • Anthony

    I agree with idea that no needs to know your business. I know for a fact that never share anything about myself that would embarrass or shame me.

  • chanela17

    this article was SPOT ON about people supposedly having a great time yet they’re being antisocial as hell by being on their phone the entire time and just HAVE to take pictures of every damn thing.that is soo annoying! you can’t even go to a restaurant without seeing everybody with their phones out tweeting,posting statuses,or taking pictures of their food when it comes,half way done,and then an empty plate.

    it’s so pathetic. people can’t go to the movies for 10 minutes without lighting up the whole damn auditorium with phones cause they just HAVE to text or get on facebook during the movie…then they say that the movie was bad… – _ -

    you drive around and everybody is on their phone on facebook,texting,or playing games. the light turns green and without fail the person in the front takes a minute and a half (and 8 cars honking) before they step on the gas,ugh!

  • Ange B

    I agree with you! It’s like watching people argue their private business publicly! It puts me and possibly other people on edge. I know I would rather not witness that private moment at all!

  • CurlyCrazy

    I think each person has a different comfort level when it comes to online privacy.. and that’s alright. It’s not one-size-fits-all.

    For instance, my husband is VERY open. He will tell his life story to anyone who asks, the good, the bad, and everything in between. He always says he has “nothing to hide” so he doesn’t care what people think. He’s been this way his whole life (as far as I know) and seems very happy with it.

    On the other hand, I’m much more private. Although I blog/vlog and am very active online, I keep a lot of things to myself, especially when it comes to my relationship, money, and job. That’s just what feels comfy to me. My parents are even MORE private than me and think even BEING on Facebook constitutes “oversharing.” They think any presence online that’s not professional or scholastic in nature is a bad decision. So who’s rules should we live by? My husband’s? Mine? My parents’? Yours? Who gets to make the final determination of what should and should not be shared online?

    I think as long as you don’t share more than you’re comfortable with, it’s alright.

    No one person can decide for someone else how much is too much. It’s a matter of personal preference, not absolute law. Some people enjoy openness, while others enjoy privacy. Everyone’s different. If you feel like someone is oversharing, just unfollow/unfriend them. Regardless of what you consider “decent”, let them do what makes them happy and stop passing judgement based on your own comfort-level.

  • terry

    why doe it have to be a celebrity to coin such a suggestion, I have been saying this for years. People talk either for attention are therapy. Which is why everyone did not know jodie was gay, she kept it that way. It talks about that in the bible about running ur mouth. Or as I put it having diarrhea at the mouth. A fool uttereth his whole mind. but a wise man keepeth his tongue.

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