The Right to be Left Alone

How do you disappear in a virtual age where there are infinite places that you can be contacted on? How do you disappear when part of your career is having public social
media accounts and having your contact information readily available?

I’m sure I sound like a monster when the other person tells this story. They contact me for help. Their life is crumbling and they want someone to talk to “just like old times”.  Please help, they plead. I need help, you’re the only person who can help me. You helped me so much, you really understand me. I’m so alone.

They are met with having their account blocked, or a sharp tongue response. Leave me alone. Stop contacting me. 

This is not the story I’m telling.

This is a story about not being able to be forgotten or lost. About having to sacrifice being available or having privacy from someone. This is a story about using guilt and manipulation to exercise control over someone who lives three thousand kilometres away. Having to move, change your phone number, block a number on your new phone number, block two emails and three social media profiles.

Accepting that you will never be left alone.

Mark Twain said to write about what you know.

Making art about fear, heartbreak and sadness, the things you know well. That feel at home in your body. Feeling tremendous anxiety about showing this work publicly and online because you know that as anonymous as you try to make it, they will identify work that is about them.

Another email.

Another social media site you forgot you had.

Your name listed on an art website, on a council.

Tell me I’m bitter. That in the past I would never have said these things. I would have been supportive. Please help.

I decided midway through 2016 that I refuse to censor the work I make because I am afraid of being found. I have accepted that this person is going to continue to contact me as long they can find ways to do so. Maybe I’ve become a monster. Or maybe I’ve realized that I no longer need to serve others who do not show me grace or respect. 

My life is not the crumbs that remain after everyone else eats.

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