A key function of public life is the regular exchange with others. The purpose of this is to verify and expand our ideas and our perception of the world.
Viewing an object from a multitude of different angles and perspectives is how we grasp and understand the world. Only then is something "real" – when it can be understood as such by a variety of people ("what I see is what you see"). Depriving yourself of this means depriving yourself of objectivity, leading to that sensation of loneliness so common to the modern world.
The desire for an exclusively private life is a modern invention. The advances in technology and society that led to richer private lives come at the expense of the assurance of reality. As Hannah Arendt so poignantly put it, living exclusively in the private sphere means imprisoning yourself in the singularity of your own experience.
The function of private life is to shelter the intimate. There is this idea of darkness, deep within us. A feeling that there is more to uncover, that there is something hidden, a source of meaning. This darkness loses significance when exposed to too much light.
In conclusion, a life spent entirely in public is shallow and superficial. We need the private sphere to form new ideas, which are then validated through conversations with others in public.
It’s critical to care for both of these dimensions. If you focus too much on one, you risk getting lost in either the solitude of the private sphere or the distractions of the public world.
Sources and Further Reading
Arendt, H., Allen, D. S., & Canovan, M. (2018). The human condition. The University of Chicago Press.