Monday, 2 December 2013

Too much information

It may be weird, but I don't really understand the concept of Too Much Inform-ation. I'm happy for other people to tell me whatever they want about themselves, and if they feel comfortable with it, then so am I. I don't care how strange the subject, if it's important to them, I'm glad they told me.

But of course it doesn't work the other way round. I say things I'm comfortable with, only to discover that other people are NOT comfortable with them and clearly think I've Gone Too Far. I have to hastily retreat and apologise and withdraw the awkward remark. Which I hasten to add, I don't mind doing; I don't want anyone to be squirming at something I've casually blurted out, oblivious to other people's sensibilities.

The thing is, there's very little about me I wouldn't want others to know. I know I'm full of faults and shortcomings and oddities but so is everyone else, so why be nervous about sharing them? Other people don't see it that way though; they feel there are certain things that shouldn't be shared, that they don't want to know, and if I do share them they cringe.

I do in fact keep quiet about a lot of things I'm pretty sure other people wouldn't want to hear. But then I mention something else that seems to me quite innocent and unremarkable and I find I've Said The Wrong Thing. And I scratch my head and wonder what caused such a frisson.

If anything, I would say most people give me Too Little Information. They're so afraid of embarrassing themselves, or embarrassing me, or looking crazy, or being self-centred, or exposing something too intimate, that they stick to neutral, well-trodden topics that avoid anything genuinely revealing. I think we're all far more guarded than we need to be.

15 comments:

John Gray said...

Is that jenny eclair?

Bijoux said...

I'm rather hard-pressed to think of a topic that is TMI for me too. I guess I'd rather not hear about bodily functions and people's gory surgery descriptions. That seems to be a topic that the elderly enjoy discussing, but I doubt I'll ever succumb.

Sexual details are rather tacky to hear about, especially if the purpose is to brag. And I think details about family members' sex lives is TMI for me and most other people.

Other than that, I'm all ears! Ha!

Wisewebwoman said...

TMI? Well, there can be. I can't recall..oh yes, today. A friend talking about all the enemas and suppositories she has to take for difficulties.
Definitely TMI.
But then again, who else will listen apart from moi?
Not exactly riveting though. And keeping the face bland is a struggle for me. Always.

XO
WWW

Rummuser said...

Finding someone to talk to who will listen is often the reason for giving too much information. There is so much stored up that when a captive audience is found the flood gates are opened.

I personally rarely talk about myself but am willing to be absolutely truthful if specific questions are asked.

Nick said...

John: No, though it looks a lot like her!

Bijoux: Agreed, bodily functions and surgery can be a bit grim, but if people need to talk about these things, I'm not going to stop them. I don't hear much about people's sex lives though. Clearly I don't run across many braggers!

Nick said...

www: Enemas and suppositories wouldn't be my ideal subject of conversation, but some people obviously think differently! As you say, maybe nobody else wants to listen so you're the lucky recipient....

Ramana: That's very true about people pouring everything out to a captive audience. I've experienced that many a time!

Cheerful Monk said...

I'm often used as a listening post and am happy to do it --- as long as the speaker isn't putting someone else down.

Jenny Woolf said...

What kind of things do you say that are too much information? I generally rarely feel uncomfortable with what people tell me except when they start talking about their sexual lives, in which case I don't feel it's appropriate to answer or discuss it. Or perhaps when they begin to rant about something and I don't agree with them then there is not much I can say without getting into an argument.
On the whole I tend to think less is more, but if you know someone really well than usually the issue does not arise. .

Nick said...

Jean: Well, I would listen to a putting-down but I'd probably suggest they take a more constructive approach!

Jenny: Ooh, now there's a question. Well, some of my weirder neuroses, anything to do with sex, unpleasant bodily functions, messy medical procedures - you know the sort of thing. Other people's sex lives fascinate me so no problems there. I don't mind rants either though like you I would probably keep a diplomatic silence.

Secret Agent Woman said...

My whole day is spent listening to what many would consider TMI in a social situation, so I sometimes worry that a question I ask might be too intrusive or something I say might be considered to revealing for the more reserved. In general, I'm happy to talk on that personal level.

EXCEPT: For the love of God, don't tell me about your bowels. Please. And actually, any of the ickier physical symptoms you might be having. I just don't want to hear it.

Nick said...

Agent: Indeed, given your job, you must have been exposed to torrents of TMI! You'll be relieved to know I have nothing whatever to say about my bowels, which have always been in excellent order!

Grannymar said...

Nick, did I ever tell you about....? Sorry, I am busy re-purposing a pair of curtains so you will have to wait until I am finished. What am I doing with them? Never mind, just know I am not using them for loo paper! ;)

Nick said...

Grannymar: I don't wish to know about your loo paper, thank you very much. Far too much information.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I want MORE info. It's very helpful & people tend to be stingy with telling more.

bikehikebabe

Nick said...

Bikehikebabe: I don't really understand why people are so cagey about revealing things. Surely by sharing them with other people they're likely to get useful and perceptive comments that add to their understanding of the thing in question? Why are people so defensive and paranoid?