Personal life is the course of an individual’s life, especially when viewed as the sum of personal choices contributing to one’s personal identity.
In the past, before modern technology largely alleviated issues of economic scarcity in industrialised countries, most people spent a large portion of their time attempting to provide their basic survival needs, including water, food, and protection from the weather. Humans needed survival skills for the sake of both themselves and their community; food needed to be harvested and shelters needed to be maintained. There was little privacy in a community, and people identified one another according to their social role. Jobs were assigned out of necessity rather than personal choice.
The way in which individuals make use of their spare time also plays an important role in defining their personal lives. In general, leisure activities can be categorised as either passive.
The notion of a personal life, as now understood, is in part a creation of modern Western society. People in the United States, especially, place a high value on privacy.
Privacy has been understood as entailing two different concepts; namely informational privacy and decisional privacy. The former concerns the right to be left alone in respect of the most intimate details of one’s personal life and is a more accepted doctrine than the latter which concerns freedom from undue regulation and control.