What’s Wrong With Hearing Private Phone Conversations In Public?

Recently, scholar and educator John Horvat II stopped at a gas station, where he witnessed a woman engaged in a conversation that seemed to be broadcast over the gas pump’s intercom system.

“It sounded like she was using the intercom to resolve a problem with the people inside,” says Horvat, award-winning author of “Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society – Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here and Where We Need to Go,”

“Then I realized the sound was blaring from the car’s speakers. This lady was talking on a cell phone using the car’s speaker system to hear her friend as she walked around the car. She didn’t care at all that everyone could hear the whole conversation.”

It made the other motorists at the pumps as uncomfortable as it made him, Horvat says. Why?

“A private conversation between two people belongs in a private space – not a public space,” he says. “This blurring of lines between private and public is becoming more frequent with the proliferation of personal digital devices, which we bring and use everywhere. It’s part of a deeper problem plaguing society.”

Intimate conversations and the internal life of thought and introspection belong within an enclosed atmosphere, such as a family. That provides a necessary respite from the overwhelming activity of the public world, Horvat says. The outside world, meanwhile, also has benefits. It allows us to disconnect from the intense concerns of private life and enter into social interaction.

“As it is now, we can never really disconnect and so we are high strung and stressed out. It leads to what I call ‘frenetic intemperance,’ a spirit of unrestraint that haunts our culture.”

Horvat II joined us to discuss the lack of privacy in today’s world. He also talked about how human-to-human interaction has ceased due to advances in today’s technology.

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