Sunday, March 22, 2009

The secret teller

Have you ever met one of those people who always seems to be telling a secret to the other person they are talking to? You know the type: they are always kind of saying something under their breath, and either tilting their head down, or using their hand to shield their lip movement from the broader public. Their eyes are intense and there would appear to be a serious urgency in their message.

I often feel a little paranoid around these people when I see them in the corner relaying some secret information to their friend. I wonder what or who they are talking about. But, then I think back to previous conversations that I have had with this same secret teller, and realize that the information he / she was sharing was really pretty ordinary and unexciting. Something like, "I heard the weather forecast is supposed to be bad tomorrow," or "I got this purse for only 20 bucks on a spring clearance sale." And, they were saying this information in the same secretive way, speaking barely loud enough that I could hear them and looking around with shifty eyes making sure no one was eavesdropping. At the time, I probably felt special that I was the receiver of exclusive information and intense attention. But, when I realize that it's a general communication principle for this person, it takes away some of the specialness.

It's quite puzzling why people interact in this way. Maybe it's carried over from childhood when everything seemed more exciting when it was told as a secret. Or maybe this person previously had a really stressful and high security job. In my opinion, I think it's a little strange, and it makes other people paranoid, i.e. myself. I also think that secret tellers might unknowingly exclude other people from joining in a riveting conversation about the weather or the great sales.

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