Jessye Norman was an American opera singer. She died on October 1, 2019. On October 2, 2019, my wife got a grim diagnosis that put me in a stupor and reminded me, now more than ever, that my generation (that did so much good in the world) stands in line waiting for the Grim Reaper’s call. In a seventy-years (that have gone by too fast) I have watched my peers run from the realms of privacy, spaces where people implemented life plans uninterrupted by neighbours that were discernible, palpable, and real to everybody, to a realm where there is none. Why? This paper takes a stab at answering that question and, in so doing, reclaiming bits of what we have lost with workable ideas, a Michigan statute, the Restatement of Torts, stories, and case law. The undertaking collects things with catch phrases and, with a trove in hand, assembles and weaves together a narrative that will help us. There are guides for the reader to follow to help him through the essay: new beginning, ploughing the ground, tree stumps and stone obstacles, furrowed fields, and so on. It ends with a deep conviction that “we’ve relinquished too much of ourselves to claim anything as private.” Everybody knows something about everybody. Who you are and what you are and where you have been are in the hands of others.
Ronald C. Griffin, An Essay on Privacy, 9 Athens J. L. 319 (2023).