It’s REALLY too personal…

its really too personal

by Kenneth Justice

~Have you ever noticed that we all tend to value different things in life;

—) Some people really value getting their nails done at a salon

—) Some people really value a nice automobile

—) Some people really value season tickets to their favorite sports team

Me personally, I could care less about getting my nails done, owning a nice car, or season tickets……but I really respect the fact that other people value those things; I’m okay with it….we are all different and therefore we each value different things in life.

One of the main things in life that I value is my privacy. While I appreciate those daring souls who author personal blogs about their life; sharing all the nitty gritty details of their love relationships, the trials they have with their children, how much they hate their relatives….some of these writers even share the names of people, cities, and give specific details. I respect the openness and boldness such authors display in their writing; fearlessly they lay their entire life wide open for all to see.

Perhaps I’m simply not mature enough to be quite so open with the personal details of my life, or perhaps that just isn’t my style. Regardless, my writing embodies a personal level of who I am while at the same time I keep a handle on my privacy. This isn’t to say that I am closed and shut up toward strangers; quite the contrary. However, I prefer to allow an element of trust to be built up between myself and others (on a personal basis) before I go around blabbing everything to do with who I am. For those readers of mine who email me, I’m sure you’ve seen that I become much more forthcoming when it comes to sharing my thoughts and my life life the more I’ve gotten to know you via email.

All of this is to say that over the past week a new person has been sitting with my friends and I at the café each morning. Our table tends to attract newbies who are looking for good conversation over coffee and this particular man has been getting a bit too intense with his questions about my life;

—) How much money do you make Kenneth?

—) Do you have multiple jobs?

—) I get the impression you have a lot of education, how do you incorporate it into your professional life?

—) What does your financial portfolio look like?

—) What is your family life like?

Each time he sits down with us I feel myself getting exhausted before he ever opens his mouth because I know that a machine-gun-barrage of questions will be coming my way at any moment. Oddly enough, he doesn’t harangue any of my other coffee house friends with his personal inquiries…..only me.

To be fair to my new coffee house acquaintance, he is very open with his own life. I know more about his finances, his job, his love life, and every other detail of his life than I really care to know. Hell, if I cared to ask he’d probably tell me his preference when it comes to underwear brands.

Of course, I have gently changed the subject and even at times told him that his questions were a bit too intimate for having only recently met me…..and he has politely said, “Oh, I understand” but then 20 minutes later asks them again. If I didn’t know better I would think the guy works for the NSA and is trying to figure out the personal and pertinent details of my life.

Last week he found out from my friends that I travel to Central America each winter and then yesterday he said to me, “Ya know, it would be really great if I could go with you to Central America this year” and then he waited for me to invite him…..No he’s not hitting on me, he has a girlfriend……I think he is simply a very open person and he has suddenly become a little bit too excited to have made my acquaintance; I hate to burst his bubble but knowing me is not like knowing someone special….I’m just like anyone else.

All this is to say that I really value my privacy. The more I get to know someone the more they earn my trust….and the more open I become with my life. Is that so wrong? I’ve thought about this element of my personality for some time in relation to culture; is this some kind of unique Western Culture attitude….or do other cultures value privacy as well?

The coffee house acquaintance I’ve been speaking of isn’t from the U.S. and in fact he isn’t from a Western Country at all. His cultural background is quite different from anything I know and that is what has made me wonder if people from other countries are simply more open with the details of their life when it comes to talking with strangers.

Oddly enough, when I began writing this article today I began with the idea of writing about privacy in relation to intimate relationships….and I’m only now getting to it. I read a psychological article the other day about keep a little bit of mystery in your relationship and how it can improve your love life….and I would really love to write about it but guess who just walked through the door, uh oh.

I think I’m going to grab a new cup of coffee and take a deep breath,

Kenneth

 

 

 

 



Categories: relationships

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

44 replies

  1. Another wonderful post, Kenneth. (I hope I’m not getting too personal.)

  2. I want a new coffee house acquaintance, but perhaps one who warms up to asking those kinds of questions over a few weeks of knowing them. Kenneth every time I see you post with “really” in the title, <link> LOL!

    • ha ha, I had never seen that…funny stuff :0)

    • Glad you liked it!
      Hey, just out of curiosity, what kind of coffee do you recommend drinking? (Is this a personal question, I should know cause I ask people all the time!)

    • In the morning I drink it black, At Starbucks I like their Sumatra & Veronna. The Veronna is really good and almost has a cocoa flavor and people who don’t usually drink coffee black may find they like it. At home I brew various things. I only use a French Press which is my favorite way to make coffee. There is a Kosher Coffee house near my house and when I’m up to spending more on my coffee I buy a pound from them (they are pretty expensive, as much as twice the cost of a pound of coffee from anywhere else) but all of their coffee is roasted on site and isn’t any older than 7 days.

      I love costa rican coffee; but their coffee is always much more lighter…..

      In the afternoons (because I have to keep my caffeine intake low) I only drink decaf soy lattes. The calories on a small latte is only about 150….and they don’t have very much sugar in them. Although I love shots of syrup (vanilla, pumpkin spice) since I’m very careful about how much sugar I take in every day I only usually get a shot of syrup once a month or so.

      The best cup of coffee though is always the one I have with friend(s) :0)

    • I’ve never had a soy latte, I’ll have to try that. You have a lot of self control to only get one shot of syrup a month! Makes me feel like I should step up my game.

      TOO TRUE! I love drinking coffee with people! But lately I’ve had to entertain myself…and I don’t mind drinking coffee alone – its relaxing for me.

  3. Interesting story. I bite my nails and drive a fast car 🙂

  4. Now all I can think about is what kind of things you can keep a mystery in an intimate relationship that can make your love life better. I think the most insulting thing my mate every said to me is that he knew everything about me. I instantaneously replied, “Oh, no you do not. I have all kinds of thoughts that I think that I think you don’t want to hear about”. Actually, after seeing me give birth several times and go through both the ecstatic and the mundane of decades of living, yea he knew most. The most important thing he did not know is that my life is about quality. When it came to improving the quality, I went for it.

    • Biochicklet,

      I can’t find the article I read (I think it was in psychology today) but here is something that is similar to it; <link>

    • Unfortunate photography choices for a grown up topic. No person can have the ass of a 20 year old forever. There is no mystery whatsoever on what “IT” is that is kept alive from that photographers point of view. I think a man can watch a woman pee and still learn wondrous things about her playfulness and passions.

    • Lmao, when I tried to find the link and ended up giving u that one instead I thought the same thing; who chose these pictures to go with the article??? If I used photos like those in connection to my articles I’d probably lose the intelligent readers in my audience as they wouldn’t take me seriously

    • and then there is just I have ass envy

    • This comment needs a “like” button.

    • I was more weirded out by the Bill Nye interview in the opening video clip (which was about the subject of that particular article). I respect Bill Nye, but find it odd that what I could call a “fluff news” site is interviewing him… on that topic.

  5. Creepy. I would run the other way. Way creepy and way to focused on YOU. RUN! Yuk and Gak. I don’t care where the guy’s from. That’s invasive, not just personal. Again…creeeeeepy.

  6. Mystery is good. Secrets on the other hand are not. But that is where we hit a thin line separating the two. As for not being open, I think it is very Western thinking, though we didn’t used to be. if history is correct on us. we used to socialise a lot. So much so that we had a piece of rope sticking out the door so that every one could just walk in. Never a worry in the world. But it changed, now we can speculate and say it is crime shutting doors.But I do not know. Maybe something to think about.

    • Ranting Crow,

      “I think it is very Western thinking, though we didn’t used to be”

      I agree. I think our culture has changed so much, especially when it comes to people being so argumentative and mean, so part of us not being as open as we used to be might be connected to the fact that we simply don’t want to deal with the nastiness of others.

    • Though we do not want to deal with the nastiness of others it also can be seen we lost the will to help others. And saying that is a reality check straight in the face. We done what we could with what we had for others. Now we do not want to share what we have. to Materialistic thinking.

  7. Nice post! I too value my privacy and I can understand how this newcomer could be rattling your nerves. I hate being put on the spot with trivial, to some, normal questions, but I find it usually too intrusive and abrupt, particularly if we’ve just met. Trust must exist first and then I can open up to someone and it must go both ways, you share and then I will share. Obviously, you have totally intrigued this individual and the more you hold back, likely the more he will try to solve the mystery. Good luck with this and remember to come armed with topics to change the subject when he gets too close.

  8. I don’t think I’m quite as reserved as you are about sharing my life’s details (not hardly, really) but that’s only online. In real life, I don’t say much. I share opinions but not details and if I do share them, it’s with specific people for specific reasons, on a need-to-know basis.

    Why do I write online? Because I don’t share much to any one person in my real life. Here, I can write/share what I wish to, no questions asked. I do appreciate people who write personally though, I must admit. I can find opinions and information anywhere, but real people, real life experiences, those pull me in.

    I like to know people even if only from a distance but I never ask questions and if I do, it’s rare and with a reasonable purpose. I value other peoples privacy as much as I do my own. If people offer information that I don’t want to hear, all I can do is let them know it as politely as possible, even if not overtly.

    People sometimes think I don’t care about them at all though because I never ask questions though so eh.. sometimes you can’t win for loosing. Oddly enough, I only ask people questions if I trust them. Otherwise, I fully expect them to lie, so what’s the point.

    • Er. That would be “losing”. Not “loosing”. This is what I get for not having my morning coffee. (Detox day. We’ll see how long that lasts. 😉

    • Steffie,

      Lots of good points u make….

      first off you’ve given a great example on why u write online and it demonstrates how different we all are because there are such a varied amount of reasons y people blog. Until your comment I hadn’t ever considered your particular motivation as to y some people blog

      Secondly, I didn’t mention it in my post, but because I spent two years working in the county jail followed by my time working at a rehab clinic, such circumstances require one to guard elements of private life as a matter of caution

      🙂

  9. Interesting question about culture. Perhaps in cultures with multigenerational households, there is less expectation of privacy, in general?

  10. I really enjoyed reading this post. You got me thinking about what I share, why and what my boundaries are both in my personal life and as an ‘online personality’.
    Online I am open with who I am, my name and basic details of my life, occupation, family size, the country, even province I’m from etc. But I am also guarded.
    The reason I bring this up is that I have recently had a large number of people sending friend requests to me on facebook to my actual personal account (which unlike many people I keep solely for those that I actually know and have met in person aside from maybe 1 or 2 people…). I addressed the issue on my facebook fan page stating that while I am open and willing to communicate with people (Twitter, facebook fan page, WordPress, Google + and writingsofamrs email) and try to be as real as I can with the public. I also need to respect and and protect myself and my loved ones. Plus, just because I share personal poetry or funny stories from my life and my past experiences to draw off of does not mean I want people knowing what I spent my weekend doing, well, come to think of it I have shared that in blog posts at times but usually only to make a point…like the importance of ‘date night’ (not that I post status updates about everything I do on my private facebook account, far from it ….anyway I’m getting off topic here…lol) I think the message was well received rom my community. Funny timing this post as that happened just yesterday and this topic has been on my mind.
    In person I am a little more reserved and I take more time to warm up and share personal details to new people in my social circle.
    Cultural differences indeed play a huge role on the way we socialize and interact with others…I actually find it quite fascinating to watch people interacting in social environments…
    Ok time for me to lay off the coffee, I’ll give you your blog back now…lol
    Great post.
    Engaging.
    Cheers,
    Jennifer

    • Writings,

      Finding a balance in such things is definitely important

    • Great post! Two comments: 1) I am a blogger who changes names, places, specifics of stories, etc. to protect the privacy of my family and friends. Keep that in mind when you read blogs. I also NEVER use photographs of my family. 2) A great way to respond to someone who asks personal questions is to “hit the ball back in their court” by asking them a question. Perhaps, “Why are you interested in knowing how much money I make?” or “Why are you interested in my family life?” SOMETIMES, this method works. Also, a good technique is to repeat their question back to them: “So, you are asking me how much money I make?” It can lead the person into another comment of their own. The person asking the questions, generally has the power. Or, you can just choose to ignore them!

  11. I didn’t even discuss financial stuff with my boyfriend until we’d been serious for like 6 months. That is super weird that he thinks he can ask you about that stuff…. *stalker alert*

  12. Former iron curtain? Anyway, I think that some cultures do have this and consider it normal. Greeks have it as well, to a certain extend. But I may be revealing too much right now! 😉

  13. I ditto all of that Kenneth. I prefer to take my time when getting to know someone, but once I do and there’s that trust, it’s all on. My girlfriends and I have had plenty of conversations that you would only have with people you fully trust haha. Some people may have been scarred for life overhearing us talk hahaha. That said, it is hard when some folks don’t understand others’ boundaries. Everyone has a little bit different personal space bubble and it’s not always easy to gauge that. I do think that other cultures definitely have a different point of view on personal space and it varies from place to place and even more so person to person. This is partly why we (here in the US) won’t completely part with having individual vehicles and going to public transportation (in a grander way than currently exists). There are some places here that do that more but as an entire nation, we like our elbow room. We like to have our own space. Other people have no problem with getting right in your face as they expect you to do the same. It can be a bit unnerving for those who like space. Good luck with your one man fan club! (not including the fan club from the blog that is) 🙂

  14. Whether this guy has come from a different culture or not, I think he has crossed the line with his invasive questions. Part of manners has to do with observation and learning customs of where you are currently at. Minimally his observations are poor as are his manners. On the other hand, not knowing how you handle him, you may be encouraging him by being polite. Have you ever thought to ask him what’s with all the questions. You don’t have to approach it with hostility but you certainly can let him know that you don’t like it. Curious, does it bother the other coffee mates, too?

    I also value my privacy. If I share, it’s because I originated it, if someone were to question be aggressively, I certainly would not feed him answers. By how you describe this guy, you might have to be blunt for him to get it…otherwise he’ll keep pestering you.

  15. I want to know if he reads your blog? If so, then I’ll be curious to know how he reacts the next time he sees you in coffee house. I know, I know, I’m being noisy, but you brought up the subject, not me 😀

  16. I’ve run into this before with friends from different cultures. Often it is a result of accepted cultural norms. If that is the case, a polite reminder that certain questions just aren’t asked can help them to understand. If they continue, well, that’s just rude, especially if you have politely declined.

    One thing I’ve had a *lot* of luck with is declaring no question too rude, nothing off limits. (Caveat: this is between women that we had decided together to be friends, not someone forcing the situation.) this has resulted in some very interesting, in-depth conversations, but also in certain instances with one of us explaining why the question made one of us uncomfortable. Once we each understood where the other was coming from, we could accept those differences and move on. And in other instances, it saved one of us from a really big faux pas. Ever been invited to your first American baby shower and you grew up in China? Amy asked me if $1000 was enough to give. Fortunately, I headed that off at the pass. In return, she helped me bargain in Chinatown and taught me to not give sweets to Chinese men.

    But privacy. Blogs by their very nature make me feel wide open, exposed. Worse, it’s my own fault. I readily admit to never wanting to be famous, but now I’m a voice.

    Crap.

    Anyways, be nice to the guy. Include him in your conversations, but check him when he asks questions too close yo the bone. Either he’ll learn and adapt or find someone new to pepper with questions. But nice is a good place to start. Consider it your good deed.

  17. Nice Article. I hear you, CultureMonk. 🙂 I only hope that person won’t read this post, cos’ he will know immediatelly it’s about him, right? And that it is a bit personal if he finds out, even though you didn’t mention his name. :-)))

  18. Would it be possible to direct his conversation in a way that it gets deep rather than broadly learning all about your life? For example, if he asks about your finances, it’s okay to say you’d prefer to keep that private, but in order to keep the conversation going without being awkward, you could ask him about his thoughts on personal privacy. You can also ask him about his thoughts on the financial system and the current economy. Or is he just helpless? 🙂

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