Transparency. It’s an interesting concept. I recall my introduction to it some 15 years back. At the time, it concerned design decisions: Clear glass shower doors were all the rage and my contractor tried to convince me.
I was unmoved. The nice big tub, the textured tiles, the stand-alone stall with a great shower head – all that, I could buy. But transparency when you’re bathing? What if you like a little privacy? What if you have less than a Hollywood-worthy bod?
What if you need a place away from the hubby and the kids for a little privacy?
Besides… I’m not flashing! I’m soaping up, I’m rinsing off, I’m shaving my legs. I’m washing this, scrubbing that, and letting a stream of water beat the stress out of me. Non merci to the see-through glass.
Instead I selected a frosted door that allowed light to flow in, showing only a form moving around on the other side.
Transparency as a Concept
Too Much Information? Yes indeed. We suffer mightily from that spillage of a legitimate and helpful exchange of information, and the technology that facilitates it.
On the other hand, transparency is a highly desirable goal in many arenas. Transparency is important in government – and we strive for more of it. Transparency is essential in business, certainly in some circumstances, especially if we want to become better informed consumers. Transparency in ownership and vested interests – in both those cases (government, business, and I would add education) – inform us in ways that could and should influence our choices.
This article in Utne Reader, “App-etite for Transparency,” reminded me of a conversation I enjoyed in flight about a year ago. The gentleman next to me was giving me a tour of some of the capabilities of my iPhone, at the time, still unexplored. Among other things, we were discussing organic foods and shopping, when he showed me Buycott, and an app that provides all kinds of information about the food I am purchasing. I was fascinated.
Utne Reader mentions both Buycott and BuyPartisan, explaining:
… After scanning a product’s barcode, the app displays a breakdown of how much was contributed and by whom within the company (including the CEO, Board of Directors, PACs, and employees).
In other words, you can see the political leanings of the company you are purchasing from. Furthermore, Buycott enables this:
The app includes a number of categories including avoiding certain corporations like Monsanto and Koch Industries and issues like women’s reproductive rights, sweatshop labor, and climate change.
Transparency. Terrific transparency, if you ask me.
What We Know, What We Want to Know
I’m sure there are some who let it all hang out – even when it comes to taking a shower. They don’t mind the glass door, and they certainly don’t seek out one that is frosted or better yet, a cloth curtain.
And the bathroom may be the last bastion of freedom to sigh or cry undisturbed, allowed to shed a few tears of frustration where they will not be noticed, to belt out a show tune under a fine spray, or to grin ear to ear in the afterglow of a pleasurable afternoon.
Personally, I don’t need transparency when it comes to my shower door or for that matter – my life, your life, or the lives of my friends and family. And just because we don’t want “total” transparency doesn’t mean we have something to hide, but rather, that we understand boundaries and discretion.
However, bathing is a far cry from information we have a right to know: Who our politicians really are, where their financial interests lie, how our tax dollars are spent, which companies are pushing political agendas we disagree with, not to mention what we eat – animal, vegetable, mineral, chemical.
I love the idea of these apps that reflect the political side of our consumption, so when we make purchase decisions, we do so responsibly. We have the option of gathering relevant detail – at the flick of a wrist and the swish of a finger. And that kind of transparency warrants flashing… a smile.
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