Suzanne Reisler Litwin: M.Y.O.B.

So… I have a friend who asks a gazillion questions. I told her she should work as a border security guard or as a police interrogator! She’s excellent at getting people to talk. However, how many questions are people allowed to ask in a simple conversation? I ask, because her continuous questioning gets really annoying after a while.

When did you go?

Who did you go with?

Where did you eat?

Where did you stay?

What did you do while you were there?

What did you do today? When did you wake up? Did you write in your journal today? What did you write about, me?

STOP!!!! I’m not answering anymore questions!

It almost feels like I’ve been undressed. It’s bad enough that when I travel sometimes my body is scanned at the security check point. I feel that violates my body. This friend actually interrogates me. Maybe the FBI or the CIA or the RCMP or CSI anything needs her? It’s not about the actual questions; it’s more about the amount of questions.

As a teacher, I encourage my students to ask questions. It sort of means they are applying the information within their own context. However, when someone asks too many personal questions, it seems as though they are prying deep into your personal life.

My solution with this friend is to give her a limit. You have 5 questions, choose them well and listen to the answers. That stopped her in her inquisitive tracks, for now.

I ask myself, is this the new normal of personal existence? The interest in everyone’s personal and private life? Does social media and the digital world control our personal platforms now or are we still in control?

My son just went to a party. He met up with a person my age (mid 50’s). She asked him a “frothful” amount of questions about his personal life. I use the word “frothful” on purpose. This is a word I recently created which means to ask so many meaningless questions that foam appears around the mouth. You can read the full definition at Urban Dictionary here:

She was spewing meaningless questions. So many that he got uncomfortable. Since when do people have the right to so much personal information? Is this the new normal with all the sharing that’s currently happening in our digital social media world? I wonder?

My advice for my son was to be polite, but to walk casually away after a few questions and say “You have to excuse me; I need to say hi to a friend…” Then jet! And…what’s it her business to ask anyone a battery of personal questions? Could you imagine if my son asked her the same questions? Well, that would be considered rude. Questions such as: Do you have a girlfriend? Where do you live? How old are you? Who do you work for? Who are your friends? These questions were very personal! Maybe there is a lack of personal respect here? If the tables were turned!

I did not LOL (Laugh Out Loud) and I certainly did not LMAO (Laugh My Ass Off)! I immediately thought MYOB! Mind Your Own Business!

I’m sure you heard this, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is a command based on words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” I will take this one step further, “Ask the questions of others, same as the questions you are prepared to answer.” I will go two steps further. Ask the amount of questions of others as the amount of questions you are prepared to answer. Now the playing field is even!

For me, I prefer to listen rather than ask questions. Truthfully, the less I know about other people’s personal lives, the off better I am. Perhaps that’s the balance I seek.

Now, we can replace the MYOB with a BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze) and then we will all LOL and LMAO!!!

BTW: Here’s a great response when you don’t want to answer a personal question.

“I’ll respect you for asking that question, if you’ll respect me for not answering it.”

—Suzanne Reisler Litwin


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