Privacy is necessary to protect ourselves from imperfection
People have been wondering throughout history if society wouldn't be better off with forced honesty, forced openess, no secrets, no privacy, just pure truth.
Such a world would be a great place to live — if we were perfect.
The problem is, we mere mortals are not.
I've a police officer for a friend and once we debated the value of an excited utterance. In his world, an excited utterance is more honest, more truthful, because the speaker is unable to lie, unable to filter the facts. From my perspective, much of our world is accurately expressed because we filter the facts. Is a white person who spoke kindly of blacks and treated them fairly, with respect as equals, throughout their life suddenly telling the truth because when they hit their finger with a hammer they called the hammer a "cotton-picker!" Such is the case with my own father, who grew up in a racist household 60+ years ago, is not racist himself, but in those rare moments his childhood exerts itself. He's not lying when his filters are on, he's practicing the skills of a better person, skills learned through a lifetime of effort to make the world a better place. An open world would as quickly punish him for his imperfections as praise him for his improvement because compassion and empathy are frequently learned traits themselves.
What, then, is the truth? What does it mean to be honest?
Or, in short, Does this dress make me look fat?
A smoothly operating society lives on the need to keep some ideas, some thoughts and attitudes private. Those thoughts may reflect the very complicated nature of an individual's past, but they do not reflect who the person is or wants to be (an issue, itself, that is very complex). We literally survive because of our ability to suppress undesirable, selfish, and conceited attitudes.
And yet we have very popular reality shows that thrive on exposing the base, uncontrolled thoughts and desires of others. "Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down," croons songwriter Don Henley, "kick 'em all around." We can't handle what little "truth" is available to us now.
The argument is: we would actually change if all that was forced to the open
But that's a lie (and one of the biggest I've ever heard). A person spends his or her lifetime learning how to mould themselves into a good person. They learn skills for communication and discipline that they would not learn if forced to have every thought out in the open. The idea that society can force people to be good is, frankly, laughable.
And if high school anywhere in the world isn't proof enough of that fact, then let's consider the prison system (anywhere in the world). Prisons do not produce model citizens. At best they produce model prisoners — people who have learned to work the system rather than learned how to behave in polite society. Forcing people to change rarely works. There is a considerable amount of evidence that your average prisoner returns to the lifestyle they had before prison. It's not that they can't be taught better. It's that inside of prison there's no space to learn to be better. You can't force a person to be better.
The effects on society would be devestating because people would have no way to improve themselves — but they would have the perfect way to dish out on other people's imperfections. I can easily imagine suicides skyrocketing and hate becoming the common norm. People would quickly flock to groups that accepted their now unhidable thoughts rather than working together to become better people overall.
It would reek.
And I'm ignoring things like everybody knowing everybody else's locker combinations.