Bowie, Liberty & Me.

Bowie, Liberty & Me. 500 276 StJohn Deakins

Yesterday was surreal. I woke to the news that someone I’d never met had died and I felt a profound sense of loss. I’ve never experienced ‘star grief’ before. Sure I was sad at 8yrs old when Elvis died and it would have been nice to have had a cup of tea with Lennon.

But this is different, Bowie’s songs have punctuated my life, from teen dating angst to psyching myself up for the first day of my first proper job, through to sharing good times with many great friends.

He was also someone who ‘got it’. He recognised back in the 90’s how profoundly the Internet would change society.

He was a liberator, a man who broke down the walls between music genres and gender norms. He was an “open network” man, welcoming an eclectic mix of global influences into his music. Bowie, the one in my head, his music, his lyrics are part of the fabric of experience that make me, me. My identity.

On the way to work yesterday I found myself fighting tears as it dawned on me that the lyrics on Blackstar that I was listening to are in fact his auto-obituary. The memoir of a man dying of cancer. Many of us have experienced someone close departing in a similar way. That took guts.

So why does this matter?  Well, I saw the flood of tributes from friends, connections and others on social media but I didn’t want to join in. Tweeting out a #BowieRIP tweet seemed trite. I wanted to be digitally alone to absorb the news. This morning, on the same commute, I realised a simple truth about the times that we live in.

At its core, digital privacy is about liberty. The liberty to choose to sometimes be alone in the crowd. The liberty to choose to freely express who we are and who we’d like to be. The liberty to be any of our different selves when we choose.

And of all the people that I’ve ever not met, I believe the Starman got that too.


Image credit: Jonathan Barnbrook, Creative Commons NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence.

StJohn Deakins

StJohn founded CitizenMe with the aim to take on the biggest challenge in the Information Age: helping digital citizens gain control of their digital identity. Personal data has meaning and value to everyone, but there is an absence of digital tools to help people realise its value. With CitizenMe, StJohn aims to fix that. With a depth of experience digitising and mobilising businesses, StJohn aims for positive change in the personal information economy. Oh… and he loves liquorice.

All stories by: StJohn Deakins

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