Monday, 19 February 2018

Filling the gaps

Am I a voyeur? Of course not. Perish the thought. How disgusting would that be? But hang on, what do we mean by voyeur? There are several different meanings.

It can mean taking a sexual interest in naked women (or men). You can rule that out. It can mean enjoying someone's pain or distress. You can rule that out too.

But being a voyeur can also mean taking an unhealthy interest in other people's lives. In which case don't we all do that from time to time? Aren't we all prone to be rather too curious about people, even when it's something that's strictly none of our business?

I want to know why someone's marriage broke up. Or what caused their death. Or whether they've had plastic surgery. I'm curious about all those little details that are glossed over. I'm just curious period, and inevitably that curiosity may verge on the intrusive.

I can't see what's wrong with that. Curiosity is a natural human trait. It's better to be curious than indifferent. After all, I'm not saying the person has to satisfy my curiosity. I'm not forcing them to reveal something they'd rather hide. If they want to keep quiet, fine, they're entitled to their privacy. I'm just saying that I'm curious and want to fill in the gaps.

The most obvious example of voyeurism is of course the insatiable pursuit of celebrities, the desire to know every tiny detail of their lives. Why do we need to know all this? Isn't it enough to enjoy their acting or music or whatever their talent is?

If a celeb is involved in some sort of scandal or dubious behaviour, then my curiosity is aroused. But otherwise I ignore them. Their private lives don't interest me.

So I'm a sort of voyeur. So sue me.

Thanks to Kylie for the inspiration

22 comments:

Bijoux said...

I think discovering the reason for someone's death, illness, or disability is a sort of defense mechanism. If we find out what happened to the person is preventable, it makes us feel better, thinking it can't happen to us. For example, whenever I hear that someone has lung cancer, I immediately want to know if they were a smoker. I'm not a smoker, so hearing that they were will give me some sort of relief that there was a preventable cause.

nick said...

Bijoux: I don't know, I think in my case it's sheer curiosity. I doubt if I can prevent illness by knowing what caused someone else's. I've never smoked, but I know non-smokers can still get lung cancer.

John Gray said...

Yes I think curiosity gets the best of all of us

tammy j said...

you know that old saying
'curiosity killed the cat.
and satisfaction brought him back.'
the niche blogs that tons of women follow on design and their 'home tours' and the DIY projects...
I think that must be a form of voyeurism that is satisfied through the internet.
I admit to looking at people's open windows during Christmas. I like to see their trees and the lights. and I suppose they leave the curtains open for that reason?
it was once said about America that we have movie stars because we have no royalty to watch.

Joanne Noragon said...

I fit your definition perfectly. I simply say I'm the person who has to know everything. It's perfectly OK if I don't find out.

CheerfulMonk said...

I'm curious too, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I don't care about celebrities, I don't even know who a lot of them are. But I do love memoirs and biographies. They tell me a lot about how other people see the world and live their lives. And the best biographies give us a good feeling for how different things were in the past.

nick said...

John: It does. It's very easy to get far too nosey!

Tammy: I hadn't thought about that. You're right, the internet caters for a certain type of voyeurism. In fact it's tailor-made for voyeurism. And yes, people do deliberately leave their windows uncovered at Christmas so you can admire their splendid trees!

nick said...

Joanne: Someone after my own heart. Whatever I find out, I'm seldom satisfied for long! I always want to find out a bit more.

Jean: Nothing wrong with reading memoirs and (official) biographies. After all, the authors have chosen to reveal all those details to us. It's a bit different when journalists are blatantly extracting information the person concerned would rather not divulge.

Helen Devries said...

Reading of someone's career I always want to know just how they 'became' whatever they became.... something usually passed over in silence and probably involving nepotism.

nick said...

Helen: Me too. But as you say, the explanation could be a bit embarrassing. People often get a shady "leg up" they'd rather keep quiet.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I don't think of curiosity about others as voyeurism. Me, I'm incurious about celebrities but extremely curious about the lives of people I know (including virtually). I think it's human nature to be interested in other's lives. Of course, I hear about other's lives in extremely intimate detail in my work, but off-duty, I still like hearing about how other people live.

kylie said...

I am also curious about those kinds of things: who did s/he have the affair with? what did they die of? why was the birth caesarean/ induced/ early?
With this kind of curiosity I am mindful not to ask the question, even though it might be burning me up :)

Am I a voyeur for wanting to know or am I a voyeur when I ask?

I see that most people really don't understand what I am saying in the post that inspired this one, I might try again......

nick said...

Agent: I'm curious about everybody, whether they're people I know or not. When people drop tantalising details but don't elaborate, it's very frustrating! I was taking voyeurism to mean an *unhealthy* interest in people's lives. I don't think a passing flash of curiosity would qualify. I'm thinking of something more like stalking.

nick said...

Kylie: I know what you mean. I'm dying to ask a few extra questions but I don't want to appear intrusive or prurient. I think both wanting to know and asking might count as voyeuristic - depending on how personal or inquisitive the question is.

No, it looks like you didn't quite get your point across re unnecessary explanations. Do try again!

Rummuser said...

I indulge in people watching. http://rummuser.com/people-watching/

Does that make me a voyeur? What do you think?

nick said...

Ramana: Clearly you do plenty of people-watching. But I don't think that makes you a voyeur unless you're forming over-inquisitive questions about them, or actually voicing those questions. If you're merely speculating that someone has been advised to take more exercise, I can't see any harm in that.

Danielle L Zecher said...

I think in a way reading blogs is an acceptable form of light voyeurism (not the really gross, horrible kinds). It's a little peak into someone's life in a lot of ways. Granted, it's a controlled, likely edited, peak, but it can still satisfy a certain amount of curiosity about how others live, work, etc.

nick said...

Danielle: I don't think reading blogs really qualifies as voyeurism because we bloggers only reveal what we want to reveal and everything else stays hidden. If we're asked intrusive questions, we can just evade them.

But what I like about blogs is that I learn a lot more about people than I tend to learn from real-life conversations. I find that people are much more candid online than they are in the flesh. Some of my blog visitors have been around for many years and I know an awful lot about them.

Polly said...

I'm curious, I like to know things. I also like people watching. I don't think that's voyeurism though. But if I'm out walking after dark and people haven't closed their curtains I look into their homes to see what their decor is like, my daughter says I'm nosey, I say if they don't want people looking into their homes they should close the curtains. I'm not looking at them, just their home, is that bordering on voyeurism?

Wisewebwoman said...

There's very little o dont know about people in my circle which is faitlr large. I think exchanging of personal information encourages intimacy. Then again, people tell me incredible stuff. I have this face and I'm an excellent listener. I should accompany you curious ones.

XO
WWW

nick said...

Polly: I agree, that isn't voyeurism, that's just casual curiosity. Looking in someone's window isn't the same as probing into their private lives. And as you say, if they don't want you to look in, they should draw the curtains (or blinds).

nick said...

www: I'm always impressed by your talent for extracting the most intimate details of people's lives. Your curiosity is easily satisfied! You're right, exchanging personal details brings intimacy. But then again, some people don't want too much intimacy, they like to have plenty of secrets and be a bit mysterious.