Personal Discretion – Part Of A Bygone Era?

Once I hit my late teens and my being shy went away I began talking to people. Random people. Strangers. I always wanted to know about people and, if you know how to listen, you can learn a lot. 

A decade ago it was similar to pulling teeth to encourage people to open up about what their career was or where they went to school, basic information. The things we put on Social Media without a second thought. 

A few weeks ago I was waiting patiently for a haircut. Of course I brought my Smart Phone, better to have something to read than sit there and stare out a window. Plus I have games and the like installed on there. 

Another woman came in. Apparently she had been in earlier and wasn’t happy with the style she had picked out. It had nothing to do with the hair dresser. From what I could tell the woman hadn’t been sure what she wanted when she first was cut. The hair dresser was busy with another customer so she had a seat to wait patiently with me. 

We struck up a conversation. I have short hair. I generally call it a boy cut but it has feminine lines. Not many people can pull this off as I am randomly informed whenever I get a hair cut and, oddly enough, I’ve been stopped on the street and told the same thing. Kinda like it, kinda find it creepy.

The woman starts in about how she’d love to have short hair but she can’t pull it off. She had a similar facial structure to mine and I offered that bit of wisdom. I thought she could and that it would look nice; A) being polite and B) being honest.

She immediately flips her bangs up and shows me how she has no eyebrows. Assuming there is an health issue of some sort I do my best not to show a reaction. She then tells me how, since she was a youth, she has pulled her own hair out. Sits there and tweezes the Hell out of it. 

Apparently nothing was safe. Eyebrows, legs and spots on the back of her head were bald. There is a term for this. It is trichotillomania, an off-shoot of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from what I understand. 

Mental disorders always get my attention and I listened to the woman as she, essentially, gave me her entire life’s story and, trust me, none of it was pleasant. 

With everything I hear, see, read and do being research I can’t find fault with wanting to hear the woman’s story but it had me reflecting on how difficult it used to be to find out basic information about people, much less have a complete stranger bare their soul. 

This is not an isolated incident. I’ve heard stranger’s confessions about cheating on their spouses, drug use, embezzling from work, abortions and so many other things that, back in the day, would have been taboo to discuss. 

People love to talk about themselves. And in this era of fast-moving, instant everything is it a surprise they want to talk and talk? We used to hide the crazy relatives in the attic. Now the crazy relatives are everywhere and they have to go farther and farther to make the other people say, “Huh? Shouldn’t you be locked away somewhere?”

Upon reflection I wonder if instant communication now equals instant intimacy. If this is the case, I can’t wait and am apprehensive at the same time about what the next decade will bring. 

I’m not complaining and, if you happen to find yourself next to a girl with short hair who seems interested, please feel free to bare your soul. You may end up a character in a book and hey, who doesn’t want that?

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