I Figured It Out: Non-Consensual Voyeurism

I figured out why I am so uncomfortable with people who live their lives on FaceBook and FetLife and various other social boards I frequent. You know the kind, the women and men who update every two hours about why they are sad or happy or angry or so deeply madly terribly in love with their current partner. The people you never would have to call and talk to, because any conversation you would need to have can easily be had by reading their Wall and posts.

I’m uncomfortable with it because I feel like I am being a voyeur. I feel like I’m watching things that weren’t meant to be public. Like looking into the window of a restaurant and seeing a person digging in their teeth, or stepping into a bathroom and hearing someone crying in a stall.

Part of it is the region and culture I was raised in. The predominant religion here is Lutheran, and the predominant settler culture was Scandinavian/German. Stoic, placid, rugged individuals, who loved, laughed and cried in the privacy of their homes, in the safety of the family, far from the eyes of prying and judging neighbors and strangers. Many imports to the area complain about the mild, neutral topics that passes for common conversation here in the Valley. We talk about crops, weather, local business, and regional events. We don’t talk about religion, or politics, or alternative lifestyles unless we are in like company.

All of North Dakota's top foods are this white and blah. Any wonder the public front would be different?

Another facet is in this area, we do “North Dakota Nice”. Everyone’s welcome, we’ll say hi to total strangers on the street, wave to folks on the road, stop and offer help to brokedown travelers. And people here are truly kind and welcoming…but don’t let yourself start thinking that you see everything to ND in that North Dakota Nice. We don’t start playing banjos when tourists come into town…but new folks aren’t embraced into the folds of a community for years. We’re polite, we’re nice, but we don’t rush to accept new folks. A really good clichรฉ for this situation would be “Still waters run deep”. And people aren’t keen on showing how deep the waters run unless its one of their own they’re showing 0END.0.

To top it all off, N is huge on privacy, family respect, and propriety. If I were to rush to the net and stomp my feet every time He does something I didn’t like, or change my status on FL after a fight, post in the forums about how “I don’t like that He forgets about my orgasms, call Him horrible names so I will feel better” He would tan my fuckin hide. Personal experiences can be expressed in my blog, but only after we have gone over it, come to our conclusions and got back on the same page. No way in hell would He ever let me call Him to the carpet on a social site, open the most personal and emotional parts of our life to the entire net. He would be furious if I wrote a long emotional apology to Him, or wrote about how I want to stab Him with a fork when He won’t let me get take-out for supper, and He’d be embarrassed if I wrote a long gushy “Let me count the ways” post. That shit just does NOT go outside of our life unless He’s cleared it.

So yeah, when I mute someone on my feeds because their history reads like goddamned Days of Our Lives, I’m probably projecting. I’m trying to give them their privacy, their dignity, even if they are trying to destroy it as fast as possible. I’m embarrassed for them. I cringe at the fact that millions of people can now watch them melt down or wax poetic like a bad Twilight novel. (Well hell, all the Twilight novels were bad.)

That doesn’t mean that I don’t ever want to read about people’s struggles, their devotion, their joys and trials. But there has to be a balance between sharing these things in context with an emotionally stable and reasoned approach, and blurting everything out without thinking it through first. A difference between conversation and verbal diarrhea. Between sharing and over-sharing.

8 thoughts on “I Figured It Out: Non-Consensual Voyeurism

  1. i struggle a lot with this same thing. i like openness but i guess i like somethings kept reserved too. i think we can be honest without sharing every intimate detail but maybe that means i’m holding too much back. Oy, i agree there does need to be a balance and i find that since i struggle where others do not, that it must be me and so i find myself pulling back and withdrawing instead of ignoring. Maybe that’s not so healthy either. Oy, it’s a conundrum…

    • It is a conundrum, katie. It’s hard for me to find the balance sometimes, between withdrawing because I’m holding out and being too verbal and forthcoming. I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

  2. I spent the better part of my life in UP of Michigan which has the largest population of Finnish people outside Finland itself. I lived there for 35 years, and was never quite accepted into the fold, so I know exactly what you mean, down to the Lutheran part too.

    Although I’m neither Scandinavian, Lutheran, or a native northerner, I find that I start editing out what I want to say on social media. Maybe it’s my age; I wonder: Is the world ready for the information that I finished doing the dishes? Folded clothes? Am gassy? I don’t really think so, and there goes 90% of my day.

    โ€œYou will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.โ€
    โ€• David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

    I have a hard time with twitter or facebook because I’ve realized how seldom people probably think of me; if I’m not often thought of now, I know beyond doubt I won’t be remembered in 50 years.

    • It sounds like you understand exactly where I am coming from, and how I feel. Your last paragraph could have summed up my post perfectly.

      Facebook for me is a place to share jokes and talk with my long-distance friends. I don’t really share bad news there, and I might share the more benign good news. I don’t have twitter at all because I don’t like to delude myself into thinking that I can be condensed into 128 character blasts, nor that anyone cares where I am eating or what I am watching.

      Your comment made me wonder about some Christians. The fear of fading into anonymity after they pass away is often a major drive for their over-connecting on many social websites. I wonder why they worry about it, if after they pass they go to the arms of Their Father to know nothing but His glory and everlasting happiness and peace.

      Perhaps I just don’t live an exciting enough life to warrant twitter or anything. If so, fine by me. ๐Ÿ™‚

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