Privacy Trumps Social Engagements

Nov 12 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew

I was having lunch with my friends and their relatives the other week. A young boy in his 20s was sitting at our table, accompanied by his two lady friends. He introduced one of them as his cousin; none from the table had close friendships with him except for one. As everyone started to get along, people from the table questioned the relationship with the girl he claimed to be his cousin.

Sitting across from him, I could see that he was uncomfortable with the comments. He kept on insisting that they were cousins, but nobody believed him. It got awkward at some point as he gave up and kept quiet despite the overflowing comments. Surprisingly, they were aware of crossing the line but went on with their thwarting act anyway. After a while, the boy had enough and decided to leave. He stayed 30 minutes with all those comments flying his way was a miracle.

Sticking a nose in somebody's business has become a custom. One cannot be proud of this bad habit. It is unpleasant to witness a person's face change in an uncomfortable situation. At least it should give a clue to stop, but apparently, not everyone understands that. It is like inception to get into our brains and dare to claim that they are entitled to whatever is going on inside.

Who gave people the right to meddle in other's personal life?

It was not my first time witnessing a similar incident; it has happened on too many occasions.

As I hurriedly headed out to my rendezvous a while ago, this woman stopped to greet me. She kept asking too many personal questions and would not let me leave. She started giving me unsolicited advice claiming that she was protecting me from an incident that had happened to her daughter. I could see my boundary being crossed as she continued. But, to avoid being labelled as bad-mannered, I went along for about 15 minutes, nodding quietly throughout the conversation.

Time does not matter for some people. Such kind of people is just concerned about getting their message across. Trying to argue with them that their own experience cannot do much, in my case, would waste more time, leaving them uncomfortable.

People breach privacy everywhere. I often share texts with the person sitting next to me in a taxi. How fast they look elsewhere is priceless. That is a major breach of privacy.

The word 'privacy or private' is commonly used when discussing online data security. The term is pervasively used in the west, where individuality is most recognized and celebrated.

In a country like Ethiopia, where socially networked cultures evolved, privacy is usually breached in the name of caring for others. There are demanding times when detailed information is worth sharing, but too much sniffing around personal information is nothing but breeds gossip. Learning to respect one's boundaries and respecting others' privacy is a lesson we all should learn.

PUBLISHED ON Nov 12,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1176]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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