NOTE: This is the last segment of my report, Privacy: The Final Frontier, which will be posted as a separate piece.
For the entire report:
The government and the criminals (who hardly fall into mutually exclusive categories) --the two types of violators of personal privacy-- have been covered already. And good riddance...
Now, here's my generic assessment of the busybody. All I can say is that, unlike the government and the criminals, for the garden-variety busybody, there is hope for redemption. Most of them are good people. They only need to learn to recognize and respect the privacy and the personal boundaries of others. In fact, I've seen remarkable transformations happen when they are confronted firmly by friends and family, not with anger, but with honesty, fairness and Christian love.
February 28, 2010
INVASIONS OF PRIVACY & MEDDLING: GARDEN-VARIETY BUSYBODIES
For those of us truly concerned about protecting our God-given right to privacy, it's not just criminals and the government we have to be wary of. The issue of the Busybody comes immediately to mind. Because they're out there, and they want to know YOUR business. The Busybody could be just about anyone: the nosy, meddlesome neighbor, co-worker, professional colleague, even a friend or family member.
In my experience, the garden-variety Busybody may sometimes be even more difficult to deal with than corporate or government invaders of privacy, at least in the cases where the person appears to "mean well"; and especially if the Busybody is a friend or relative, someone I care about. In some cases, maybe they are really just trying to help, but "help" of that kind, I don't want or need.
But be that as it may, the core issue is still the same: You have the right to protect your privacy and establish your personal boundaries. Only YOU can decide where those boundaries lie and who is overstepping them. And no one has the right to cross your line in the sand.
For me personally, it's all about RESPECT. Respect for the Inviolability of Personhood, and is certainly a matter of honor. I make no secret of the fact that I am a very private person. In fact, I am a recluse, and far more reclusive than anyone I know. I avoid, as best I can, any dealings with "society" and eschew worldly pursuits. I hate noise (including motorcycles, the blasting of loud stereos --what passes for music these days, blaring TV sets, etc.) and crowds. And I avoid loud, aggressive people like the plague.
I don't get involved in politics (I haven't voted in over thirty years); don't join groups, and do not embrace any form of political or religious orthodoxy. I have no worldly ambitions. These trappings of "civilized society" hold no benefits for me, nor enhance my life in any way. Because in every case, engaging in these pursuits necessitates regular dealings with groups of people, and worse, becoming embroiled in a shallow, decadent culture which is anathema to me.
On the other hand, I enjoy peace and quiet, solitude and (for the most part) I prefer the company of those of God's creatures who are other than human. I spend as much time as possible outdoors, especially in my favorite peaceful natural settings (just the way God made them!) near the ocean and in the mountains. I am in the world, but certainly not of it. The spiritual world is more real to me than the discord of the physical plane of existence, though, like anyone else incarnate on this earth, I obviously must deal with it.
Nevertheless, I deal with "the world" as little as possible. I would even say I am "antisocial" -- certainly not in the pathological sense-- but in the sense that I tend to avoid "socializing" and "society" whenever possible! Society is nothing more than a hot-bed of Busybodies.
All my associates, friends and family are well aware of my reclusive nature and my position on privacy, and they all know that I expect others to respect my privacy and personal boundaries, just as I respect theirs.
Unfortunately, there are those who simply do not listen, no matter how many times I make my position clear. True, I may be more concerned with privacy and defending my personal boundaries than most, but nonetheless, that is my prerogative. If others find me extreme in the position I have taken (and many have done, usually the Busybodies), so be it, but that is not my problem, nor will I allow others to make it my problem. I am not concerned with "what people think", as long as they don't try to impose their personal beliefs on me or interfere in my life.
When someone oversteps his/her bounds by showing a lack of respect for my personal boundaries, I confront the person and let him/her know that this behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable to me. Since I am plainspoken and blunt, I leave no room for doubt, but I do try to be polite and I do try to offer an explanation, in the hope that no misunderstandings will cloud the issue.
If the offending behavior persists, and the Busybody repeatedly disregards my wishes re privacy or personal boundaries, I usually have no choice but to break off the relationship, as painful as this may sometimes be. I have lost quite a few friends over this issue, and the reason was always the same: The Busybody persisted in the offensive behavior, completely disregarding my wishes about privacy, personal boundaries and confidentiality.
This has been most hurtful when I know the Busybody to be a basically decent and kind person, because many of them are. But unless (and until) they learn to treat others with a respect for the Inviolability of Personhood, I simply can't handle the stress and trouble they bring into my life.
ARCHETYPE OF THE BUSYBODY
For the purposes of this report, I believe it will be useful to provide a character sketch of what I call the Archetypal Busybody. Since the inherent nature of the Busybody is somewhat universal (they've been around for thousands of years, and are cited even in the Bible) I'm sure at least those discerning persons who have had dealings with the Archetypal Busybody (hereinafter referred to as AB) will recognize the character traits of the archetype.
This is not to say that ALL ABs share ALL the traits I will outline here. But I have found, in my observations over a period of many years, that more often than not, the AB will be defined, at least in a general sense, by certain penchants and proclivities; and by a pattern of behavior which is consistent with the archetype. But read on and decide for yourself.
[Note: I have used the feminine pronouns "she" and "her", simply because most of the ABs I have known are women. Not all, mind you, but most. I have my theory on that, but it is certainly not of the sexist, misogynist or male-supremacist mindset, and in any case is beyond the scope of this report.]
1) First and foremost, here is the core of the issue: The AB does not respect (nor sometimes even acknowledge) the personal boundaries of others. This, of course, includes the right to privacy. And from this stems the intrusive and aggressive behavior that causes endless trouble for others.
2) The AB is Nosy as hell. She believes everybody's business is her business. She will ask intrusive personal questions; snoop around a person's home/office; and like a vacuum cleaner, will generally try to suck in as much information as possible about friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. She'd just "love to be a fly on the wall."
3) The AB lacks discretion. She will often blurt out inappropriate comments and make personal observations which make others uncomfortable, or which others consider intrusive or insensitive, while overstepping her bounds. Thinking out loud, so to speak, and not thinking before she speaks, thus showing insufficient consideration for others.
4) This lack of discretion often makes the AB a gossip and "town crier". Not only does she believe that "Everybody's business is my business". Everybody's business is proclaimed far and wide, by burning up the phone lines; by hammering out e-mails, and whenever the opportunity presents itself, in person.
For the AB, Anybody's business is Everybody's business. She particularly likes cell phones, because the gossip can flow non-stop, while shopping, driving or rushing around from place to place on her numerous errands. She may also have a penchant for "conference calls" with at least three people on the line. The more the merrier! There is more often than not a sense of breathless melodrama when the AB reports the latest gossip. She enjoys being the center of attention, as in: You heard it here first!
5) The AB does not respect personal confidences. If you entrust the AB with personal/private information, even in the strictest of confidence, sooner or later, you will "hear through the grapevine" that your personal/professional business has been put "in the street", when the rumors (by this time usually twisted beyond recognition) start to fly.
6) There is often a "consensus" mentality held by the AB. She will endlessly discuss her problems (as well as those of others) with every Tom, Dick and Harry who comes down the pike. She has trouble reaching conclusions (either by logic or intuition) or making decisions on her own, so she asks others, What should I do? --and then falsely assumes that others have the same problem, projecting her lack of mental and emotional clarity onto others.
She will drag in third parties where they are not wanted and don't belong and then solicit their opinions (often about YOUR business) all the while analyzing a situation to death, focusing more on the minutiae than the main issue. She will repeat the same comments over and over (usually meaningless platitudes) and will also co-mingle issues that are not connected in any way. Let's vote on it!, she will say, even if the issue is non-negotiable for another individual and/or invades another's personal boundaries.
The AB cannot simply "agree to disagree". She must instead waste time and energy trying to strong-arm others into a consensus position. We must ALL agree! It's enough to drive you nuts and would try the patience of a saint!
7) The AB (in case you haven't noticed by now) is a non-stop talker, a motor mouth. She wakes up talking, talks morning, noon and night, and is probably still talking when her head hits the pillow. Too, the talking is usually loud, which creates a discordant environment for those sensitive to noise or trying to concentrate on anything else. Much of the talk is gossip, but she is also given to mindless chatter and blathers on about anything and everything under the sun.
The AB seems to feel uncomfortable when NOT talking, and if no one is responding, will sometimes replace the talk with sound effects, such as humming or clucking, or by turning on a TV set --anything to break the silence.
In conversation, the AB constantly interrupts others when they are speaking; and often suddenly changes the subject, thus derailing you from any point you wanted to make. And although she loves to talk, she usually lacks the capacity to really listen to others, which is one reason you could tell the AB repeatedly that you've been a strict vegetarian for forty years, but she will still show up at your door with a pot of chicken soup. Eat it, it's good for you!
Another problem stemming from the AB's failure to listen is that she (not having heard you the first time, or the second, or even the hundredth) will repeat the same questions over and over. (So, tell me, are you a doctor? A lawyer? An Indian Chief?)
8) The AB is a meddler. She not only TALKS about the business of others, but also INTERFERES in the business of others. She engages in social engineering and replaces moral absolutes with situational ethics, whatever it takes to convince herself that she is "doing the right thing." She will appoint herself (without your permission and often without your knowledge) as an intermediary; a conduit; a spokesperson; a matchmaker. She will not only talk about the private business of others, but often presumes to speak FOR them, trying to "broker deals" with third parties, without your knowledge or consent.
When trouble invariably ensues, she'll say, Well, for heaven's sake, I was only trying to help!
9) The AB dishes out unsolicited advice to most everyone she knows (and even total strangers), on any subject you care to name, from finances to affairs of the heart; and even goes so far as to foist unsolicited amateur "medical" advice or amateur psychoanalysis on the hapless recipient. Yet most often, she has no professional expertise on whatever she is "advising" you about, and/or doesn't have a grasp of the basic facts of any situation, either because she hasn't bothered to listen; or because you have (wisely) chosen not to share with her more than a general overview of the issue.
But that doesn't stop the AB from trying to advise or interfere --she is a know-it-all, eager and willing with free advice for all and sundry. And she's pushy about it too. No matter how many times you say, No thank you, I know what I am doing and if I need advice I will consult the professional of my choice, she will continue to accost you and lay on the pressure with unwanted advice. She will hound you and wear you down until you say, Enough already! But it's only a suggestion, she will say. I have the right to make suggestions!
10) The AB often has a "Mommy complex." She flaps around like a mother hen, clucking over her "children" (who happen to be adults); advising; admonishing, attempting to "organize" every aspect of their lives and trying to manipulate all the people in her life through "smother love". It's because I care!, she will say tearfully, when confronted by someone who can't take anymore. The AB seems shocked when people have had enough and walk away. After all I did for you! she will weep. Then, she will complain about the "ingrate" to everyone who will lend an ear.
11) The AB engages is overly familiar behavior, even with strangers --anyone from the supermarket clerk, to the gas station attendant, to the waiter at a restaurant. She is a "touchy-feely" type who will invade the personal space of others with impunity, without even realizing that this is offensive to others. She may also be flirtatious. Again, the lack of respect --or even recognition-- for the personal boundaries of others.
12) The AB is prone to jump to conclusions and make assumptions on any number of subjects, including about other people's lives. This is an example of the old saying, A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. She doesn't seem to regard people as separate, unique individuals, but rather as part of some collective or group. She also tends to make blanket statements, such as, Well, that is just the way men/women/older people/rich people/fill-in-the-blank....are. The individual gets lost in the collective and is not seen for who he/she truly is.
13) The AB has a habit of frequently "checking in" by phone calls, asking for all the latest details of your life, and also telling you more than you ever wanted (or needed) to know about hers. If the AB can't reach you by phone or e-mail, or if you do not respond, the AB is likely to just show up at your door, even driving long distances in order to "check up" on you.
14) If the AB is confronted (and sooner or later, she usually is) and told that she really needs to mind her own business; that her meddling and snooping and pushy behavior are inappropriate and offensive; rather than apologize and acknowledge that she was in the wrong; that she has overstepped her bounds, she is likely to become angry at you and explode. She will then try to shift the blame for the situation she has created onto YOU, when all you did was tell her to stop interfering in your life, which you had every right to do.
But even if you clearly and bluntly explain that you will not be tolerating this behavior in future, and break off contact with the AB, the snooping and meddling won't stop. If you don't return her phone calls or respond to her e-mail, she will call or e-mail your closest friends and your relatives, trying to extract information about you. She will say she is "concerned" about you; worried that she has not heard from you; and will probably tell the third party that she "doesn't understand" how you could fail to see that she was the best friend you ever had!
And so it goes...I'll bet everyone reading this (with the probable exception of the ABs themselves) recognizes the behavior pattern. As I mentioned before, the Busybodies are often basically decent people, and "mean well". But meaning well just isn't enough.
Most seem to be approval-seekers and people-pleasers, which is always a losing proposition. Because when you care so much about what others think; when you concern yourself more with the business of others rather than with tending to your own affairs, your own life, your own Spiritual Integrity and Inviolability of Personhood, you don't end up pleasing anyone, least of all yourself. You don't gain the approval you seek from others, but lose it.
Respect the privacy and personal boundaries of others. Protect your own borders and leave others to protect theirs. Privacy is sacred, your God-given right. And it is the Final Frontier.
Barbara Hartwell Percival
Sovereign Child of God
August 29, 2008
Barbara Hartwell Percival
Legal Defense & Research Trust
Legal Defense & Research Trust
Barbara Hartwell Vs. CIA