Monday, 15 November 2010

Curiosity

I'm an intensely curious person. I'm never satisfied with the obvious. I'm never satisfied with glib platitudes. I want to know more, I want the facts behind the facts, I want the hidden story.

So you have marital squabbles? Medical problems? Financial headaches? Tell me the details, the sheer awfulness, the whole desperate mess. Don't fob me off with vague hints, lay it all on the table.

The trouble is that most people don't want to tell me the full story. They're suspicious of my curiosity. They think I'll criticise them, or laugh at them, or lecture them. They're embarrassed by their own foolishness or vulnerability or incompetence. They can't believe I'm simply interested in what they're going through, what they're having to contend with.

So most of the time my curiosity is frustrated. I have to make do with imagining the missing pieces in the jigsaw, imagining what they're not telling me. And quite possibly conjuring up something far more lurid and catastrophic than is actually the case.

Someone will hint at marital tensions, and immediately I'm assuming sexual infidelity, domestic violence or seedy obsessions, when the reality may be nothing more than persistent snoring.

I don't mind other people's curiosity about me. I don't have anything to hide (well, very little). People can ask away as much as they like, I'm happy to tell them whatever they want to know. I'm a fallible human being like anyone else, I make mistakes, I get into tight spots. I don't feel any need to cover things up and pretend I'm perfect. I don't expect criticism or ridicule, and actually I seldom get it.

There's nothing wrong with curiosity. It shows a healthy interest in life. What does disturb me is people with no curiosity at all, people who respond blankly to anything and everything, be it trite, odd or utterly insane. That's what really sends shivers up my spine.

25 comments:

kylie said...

we're the perfect match: you love to ask and i love to talk about myself. bingo!

e said...

Well, your curiousity served you as a journo, I'll wager. I'm always curious too but I also value privacy for myself and others.

Val said...

You'd have loved my first blog in which I wrote far, far too much about myself. It got to the stage at which it was embarrassing (and I had some really horrible responses which eventually made me delete the whole thing).

In the past, I've had some pretty horrible experiences from having said too much to people, and now I'm a 'twice shy' sort of person.

But I'm pretty much like you in the listening area, I like to 'hear' (read) what people have to say about themselves.

:)

So... when are we gonna have a really really really long post from you that goes into all the nitty gritty of your life? (Or have you already and I just haven't read, them?)

Nick said...

Kylie - Okay, talk away. How many lovers have you had and how many were worth having?

e - It did indeed. And one of the many problems with journalism is the constant intrusion on other people's privacy. Then again, the desire for privacy is fair enough up to a point, but too much reticence can easily turn into obsessive secrecy.

Nick said...

Val - An ex-blogger I know also wrote astonishingly frank posts about herself and later regretted it. Women bloggers in particular can find their candidness abused by others.

I think in the almost 4 years I've been blogging I've covered just about all my quirks and eccentricities. The only subject I won't go into is sex, partly because that would totally embarrass Jenny. You'll find some revealing posts if you search for Masculinity!

Suburbia said...

I'm sure I always ask too many in appropriate questions!

Nick said...

Suburbia - But I guess they're only inappropriate if the other person doesn't want to answer them. And of course you don't know that until you've asked them!

Baino said...

I'm amazed when people don't ask questions. How do you find out about someone without some sort of quiz. It doesn't have to be an interrogation just a show of interest. Had a friend once who asked how come Iknew so much about her best friend. It was easy, I talked to her and listened to her. Not rocket science.

Grannymar said...

You can hear my confession any time! Sorry, I forgot. You already did! :)

Macy said...

Ah Nick - I'm a tell all kind of person myself - but as I get older and wiser, I've realised that things I tell can hurt other people.

This can make blogging difficult.

WV = NICSPINS

kylie said...

enough to count on one hand.
my experience of lovers is like my experience of camembert, they are all great until you have the best and then you would never go back :)

Nick said...

Baino - I think that's the key to finding things out, showing a genuine interest in what people are telling you. And that means genuine interest, not just prurience or idle nosiness.

Grannymar - Oh, I think there's a lot more you haven't confessed to.

Macy - True, you can be quite comfortable about revealing something, but it might be acutely embarrassing to others. Particularly if the revelation centres on them.

Nick said...

Kylie - Like camembert? What a fascinating comparison. And that's true, a really wonderful lover (or friend) makes their predecessors look pretty inadequate.

secret agent woman said...

I tend to be very careful about what I ask people because I have to ask incredibly personal questions at work. There, people are paying to reveal all to me, but when I'm off-duty, I try to be sensitive to the fact that many people don't want anyone prying into their lives or trying to unearth the scandal. Good friends are a different story, of course, as are less good friends who simply like to spill. On my blog, I'm pretty revealing (although I hold back far more than most people would guess!) but I'm quite capable of clamming up if someone asks me in person and I don't feel like sharing.

Nick said...

Secret Agent - True, one should respect the wishes of people who simply don't want to confess everything and that's how it is. I always assume there are plenty of things you keep to yourself. I think that applies to most bloggers, we're clever at giving the impression we're being more revealing than is actually the case!

Wisewebwoman said...

Meet your twin here Nick, I am intensely curious about people but not in a prurient way, more as to how they surmounted difficulties, including childhoods, marriages, etc etc. I can't get enough.
People tend to confide in me a lot more than they really should.
I keep my blog fairly anonymous because I do reveal a lot about myself and might hurt others.
I would find it totally restrictive to have an open ID blog.
My life is a fairly open book and I always tell others to 'ask away'.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www - Exactly, I also like to know how people have dealt with difficult situations. But of course some people want to keep the details to themselves because it's all too painful or awkward to talk about.

Scarlet Blue said...

Yep, I think people steer towards 'trite' to avoid pain... I've noticed it with older people... they just want to sail on calm seas.
I can understand it if they've lived through turbulent times.
Anyhow, that's not me yet.. shall I tell you about my verucca?
Sx

conortje said...

You'd fit in perfectly in Holland - they just come out and ask :-) If you say that you have a doctor's appointment they'll just say 'really, what's wrong'. Can be funny. Can be great. Can be very uncomfortable hehe

Nick said...

Scarlet - Yes, I can understand reticence that's due to a turbulent life. Personally I haven't yet had the sailing on calm seas experience, there's still plenty of unwanted turbulence. And as for veruccas, that wouldn't phase me. As a teenager at boarding school I had a whole foot-full of veruccas and Matron spent a very long time laboriously zapping them all.

Nick said...

Conor - I've known a lot of ultra-curious people like that. As you say, sometimes you welcome the opportunity to spill but other times it's excruciatingly uncomfortable. Do you have any veruccas btw?

conortje said...

hehe lord knows what exotic tropical things I may have picked up along with the inevitable travelling bug :-)

Nick said...

Conor - Ha, a typical evasive response. Just lie on zis couch and I shall get to ze bottom of your illness repression syndrome.

Liz said...

It's not that I'm not curious but I don't like to ask. if someone says 'I've just been to the doctor's,' I assume they'll tell me more if they want me to know.

Husband always tells me off for not asking questions and finding out.

Nick said...

Liz - Well, I suppose you could say "Do you want to tell me about it?" and then it's up to them. Some people are only too keen to tell you every last detail.