by Krista on March 5, 2014 — Have you ever eavesdropped on a conversation you weren’t supposed to? Tell us about a time when it was impossible not to overhear a conversation between people who didn’t know you were there. What was the conversation about? How did it make you feel?
I dislike eavesdropping. It’s a major cause of serious misunderstanding and conflict. Consider the story of Heathcliff and Cathy. If Heathcliff hadn’t heard only half of what Cathy said, gotten angry and stormed off without waiting to hear the rest of the story (context, context!!), generations of literary misery could have been avoided. This is a tale that has been aggravating me for more than half a century both as a book and on film. I don’t care how romantic it is. It’s stupid.
You seen, that’s the fundamental problem with eavesdropping. You never hear the whole story. And you don’t hear it in context, just pieces which inevitably don’t mean what you think they do.
When I bump into someone else’s conversation, especially if it happens to concern me, I run. Literally. I do not want to hear it. Sure, they could be telling each other what an amazing human being I am and how much they admire me, but the odds don’t favor that. For reasons best known to the Fates, we will only overhear conversations that reflect poorly on us, that seem to show our friends as disloyal backstabbers … whether or not they really are. And having heard what we heard illicitly so to speak, we don’t feel we can confront someone about it.
Which mean they never get to explain the context or even apologize, if that’s appropriate. We keep those ugly, overheard words tucked in our souls. We burn with outrage, sometimes for a lifetime.
There’s no percentage in it. Eavesdropping can make you miserable, but I’ve never heard of it making anyone happier. Not ever. Remember Heathcliff. You could find yourself roaming the heaths forever calling in vain for your beloved because you couldn’t resist listening in to a bit of private conversation.
When you find yourself within earshot of someone else’s private communication, block your ears and run for the hills. You’ll be glad you did.
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