Thursday, August 17, 2006

Shhh! Don't tell

Secrets... From the time Eve took a bite of the apple, we have been asking for forbidden knowledge. You boys/men reading this will probably not identify with this topic because secrets are a girl thing, not playing a big part in male culture. But for women, there is enormous power in possessing a secret and in prying one out of someone else.

From the time we are young children, it is shared secrets that determine who is in and who is out of any group. Secrets mark every ritual initiation. I’ll bet anyone who was ever in a sorority or fraternity or any other selective group to this day remembers the password and the secret handshake.

Some secrets are insignificant pieces of information. However, others have the potential to ruin relationships and turn friends into enemies. Secrets can be as powerful as hand grenades.

It’s interesting that we go to great lengths to declare our intentions to keeps secrets. The stack of Bibles that have been sworn on would probably reach to the sky. There have been countless pinky swears. There has even been the exchange of blood. But often even those intentions cave in under the intense pressure of one who wants to know.

For the most part the Blogosphere is not about secrets. We generally put it all out there for public consumption. But yesterday I read the following (edited) comment on a friend’s Blog:
"I guess I'm going to have to write you privately about this because A, B and C have all cropped up in interesting ways in my life."
My immediate reaction was that I wanted to know what this person had to say. I wondered why it was privileged information, especially given the anonymity of the commenter. My friend is resolute about not passing on information vouchsafed to her by others, so it will forever remain between them. Was it wrong of me to want to know?

What’s your take on secrets? Can you be trusted to keep one? Are there situations under which you really should tell all? What are the ethics associated with secrets?

9 Comments:

Blogger Old Lady said...

Nosey is my fatal flaw. I always want to know and have to exert much control to not be a pest!

9:57 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I respect a person's privacy and confidence. I never feel the need to share in any specific way what someone has told me. Now, this is not to say that I might not reveal parts of it in a general context. For example: I would never say, "Did you know that A was sexually abused as a child?" because that would be a gross violation of someone's privacy. However, I might say, "I know people who have been sexually abused as children." Since this is general and not infringing upon anyone's privacy or confidence.

On the other hand, I am not into gossip and salaciousness, so opportunities for me to reveal something I know about a person are very, very remote.

I don't remember as a child engaging in secret rituals, knocks and codes. While they were of interest to me when I was younger (whose imagination can't be spurred by Enid Blyton's Secret Seven and Famous Five stories? Or later the Hardy Boys?). We did have a club called the Phantom Five (with an appropriate flaming skull as the logo), but I don't recall any "secret" rituals or codes that we engaged in. Mostly we just hung out, rode our bikes, and ate freezies in the summer.

BTW, while it may be true that men do not engage in secrets, we do engage in conspiracies ;-)

11:14 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I remember going to my mother in tears when I was about 10. Two girls at school had a "secret" that they were bragging no one else knew and it was about me. Neither one would tell me what the "secret" was. My mother's words to me live to this day: "It cannot be a secret unless only one person knows." I truly believe that. Once I tell another person it is no longer a secret.

K

12:36 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I try to be open and honest, but some things just shouldn't be told. I suppose I've got my share of secrets but I certainly don't brag about them!

12:51 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

OL -- I think a healthy curiosity is OK!

Richard -- Yes, when I think about it most conspiracies that I know of involve males!

Kate -- Your mother was absolutely correct. But I'll bet it didn't help you when you were 10. Kids are very skillful at using secrets to manipulate others.

Kristin -- Sounds like a good policy. The truth is we all have secrets.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Ghetufool said...

the only ethic of a secret is, it should be a secret, even when your worst friend-turn enemy had entrusted you one with.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

What makes you think secrets are a girl thing? Hey really cute pic of the dogs!

8:56 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Ghetufool -- I totally agree with you!

Reya -- You know that secrets are a girl thing. Most boys I know wouldn't know what to do with a secret if that possessed one and would certainly not be able to keep it! I loved the pic of the dogs -- not mine actually, but don't they look like my D & J?

11:01 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Hmmm...I like secrets when they're kept..that's what makes it one.

Delta Chi - Kappa Chapter! I even had a jacket! White and baby blue!
I wouldn't really go for that exclusive kind of stuff now since I'm an all-inclusive, let's everybody join in, equal opportunity person.

11:05 PM  

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