Recently I have been confronted with a case of strangers who over-share. Yes, there is nothing more notable then meeting a man or woman who thinks of you as their long lost pal and best friend from another mother and wants you to be a part of their life. Now, as warm and fuzzy as this situation sounds, more often than not (read: ALWAYS) this is creepy and causes me to dash out of various restaurants, grocery stores and other civilian getaways at the mere sight of over-sharers.
Over-sharing has put a damper on many of my would-be friendships. You see, I am not much of a talker and for that reason, people believe that I am a listener. This assumption has led me to be the victim of others trying to become my friend by telling me about their divorce dilemmas, custody battle hearings and how they disapprove of my lifestyle choices.
Exhibit A: Crazy Lady and her divorce dilemmas. There I am, walking in my most favourite of grocery stores when Crazy Lady (my affectionate nickname) comes up and starts to ask my sister and I personal questions like “how do I kill my husband?” and “what kind of medication would I give to make him just hurt a little?” This would all be in good fun except for the fact that I have no idea who she is. Her response is that she has seen me in the grocery store “a couple of times” and thereby feels the need to clue us in as to how her divorce from her husband is going. I do not know this woman’s name. I have never seen her at the grocery store and her comments seem to suggest that she has stalked me out as her victim. I also make the mistake and think that she is joking about trying to kill her ex-husband. Alas, in my many conversations with her in which she tries to pry my name and phone number out of me, I get to understand that her husband and her are in the middle of a nasty little divorce and her kids are being taken away from her. Now, as bad as I feel for this lady, and I really do feel horrible that a mother is put in that situation, I just don’t understand why I was chosen as her sounding board / confidant. I am at least 20 years younger than her. I try my best to avoid eye contact with her when she is in the same grocery store as I am. I try to laugh when she asks me about poisons that will “do the trick”. When her face does not reveal the least bit of humour, I try to run home terrified and somehow think I have left my wallet there and she has found out where I live and will google map me when she gets home. She stalks me at the local Tim Hortons trying to pry my phone number out of me and she tells me that she’ll “keep me updated” on her events. I just don’t know how to tell this lady that I am not her friend and that I don’t like you. This sounds harsh, and well, it is harsh. But honest to goodness, can a girl not just get a little food and coffee and not be harassed by the locals who try to squirm their way into my life with their own problems?
Take example number two: the Tim Horton’s lady. Yes, she is sweet, but I have a succinct feeling that she is slowly but surely dropping bits of poison into my coffee every time I come in. Like a jilted lover, she and I were on the best of normal customer-service relationships. However, things turned sour when I brought my boyfriend in. He and I were holding hands when I went up to the counter alone. No longer was there a friendly smile on her face but a disapproving glare in which she asked me in her thick Indian accent “is that your brother?” Not getting the response she was hoping for, she has never been able to smile at me again. In fact, she deliberately makes sure my coffee tastes like cigarettes. I guess she felt that for those years that I had come into Tim’s without a boyfriend she had my life worked out in her head. Throw in the fact that I have a boyfriend and all her preconceived notions about me being a good little brown girl are thrown into the burning pit of hell. My question is why did she feel that she and I had such a good rapport when the extent of our conversations were cream, sugar and baked goods? And did she feel the need to be interested in my life when I am just a customer and nothing more?
In the larger extent of things these instances are minor annoyances that I have to face. Yet, the tendencies of over-sharers are becoming increasingly prevalent in society. In an age where we can check everyone’s facebook status and become so in tuned with virtual strangers lives, do we believe that this sort of cyber-stalking can work in the real world as well? Are we too invested into the lives of strangers? Or is it that we are not able to reach out to actual human beings anymore and try to create bonds and friendships with those who we merely see everyday and not with those who actually hold our attention and will give us the meaningful audience that we crave?
What do you guys think?