Social Question

Shippy's avatar

Do you feel safer the less people know about you?

Asked by Shippy (9852 points ) December 5th, 2012

I once met a man, who told me, the less people who knew him, and the least they knew about him, the better off he was.

He was a very wealthy man. I have at times told certain people things about me, then wish I had not. Are you guarded and why? Or are you the converse? And how has this worked in your favor?

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19 Answers

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

I do feel safer the less people know about me, but I do sometimes worry that I take it to the other extreme at times and I think that this can also be a bad thing. I think I am guarded due to a lack of trust in people and I think it stems from problems I had at school whereby I felt that if they knew less about me, then there would be less to have a go at me about.

I think it has helped me in some situations, but caused trouble in others and to an extent I am still battling with trying to work out where this fine line actually is between giving enough information whereby I feel comfortable with it and only telling other things to the very very limited few that I trust.

bookish1's avatar

Interesting question. As I’ve said on other Q’s recently, my problem has always been trusting people and sharing too much of myself. I’m trying to find a healthier balance now.

But my inclination is still to respond “no” to the question. A concrete example is my diabetes. The people I hang out with regularly, and my next door neighbor, know enough about it so that they would be able to help me out if I had a SNAFU, which could happen anytime. I’ve met some type 1 diabetics who keep their disease a big secret, only do their injections and test their blood in private, etc. I don’t think that is prudent and I know that I could not do that.

deni's avatar

I have no reason to feel that way. I don’t have anything to protect really, it’s not like if I spill the beans to someone they’re going to find out I was involved in insider trading stock market stealing nasdaq apple wall street embezzling anything crazy like that you know? So no. For me there’s no correlation.

flutherother's avatar

With people I know well and trust I feel safer the more they know about me and it is a relief to share things. Not that I always do. I am quite guarded with those I know less well and I am more careful in what I tell them. Here on Fluther things are a bit different again, but there are still things I wouldn’t reveal about myself here despite the anonymity. If I felt no one knew anything about me I wouldn’t feel safe at all. Safety comes from people accepting you for who you are. Having just one such person might be enough.

lifeflame's avatar

Oddly enough, I feel the opposite.
I always feel that when people judge me, it’s because they have an incomplete understanding of my story. For example, let’s say they learn that I’m gay. Now if they refused to know me and m partner better, their perception of me might be coloured by their own prejudices. However, if they actually got to know how I met my partner, how we too, squabble over how much water to put in the spaghetti pot, etc. then they would be more inclined to empathise, rather than stereotype and judge.

Obviously when it comes to social security numbers and credit card bills I don’t leave them lying around.

janbb's avatar

i vacillate. When I was first separated, I nearly stopped people on the street to tell people about it. I learned to be more circumspect after my friend told me her book group had heard about it from my hairdresser. Sometimes I need to show who I am to get validation, sometimes I prefer to be more quiet. But on the whole, I’d say I am more of an open book than a closed one.

marinelife's avatar

I tend to be guarded. I work on having more trust.

partyrock's avatar

I feel safer if people did not know the incriminating or PERSONAL information they could somehow use against me…. I have no problem knowing a lot of people, or people knowing me… but I would feel safer I think if I didn’t tell so much personal info to people. If that makes sense.

Sunny2's avatar

I think that the more people know about problems we share, the better we all are able to solve the problem or live with it with greater assurance. As a result, I’ve been pretty open about my own difficulties. I haven’t any particular problems with that of which I’m aware. Of course people could be avoiding me and I wouldn’t know it, but I don’t expect to please everyone.

burntbonez's avatar

It’s not so much more or less, but what they know about me. I don’t want them to know the things they will use to hurt me. I’m more than fine with them knowing everything else. However, figuring out what might hurt me is sometimes difficult.

Unbroken's avatar

I agree with @janbb there is need for both.

Judgment on when and where develops over time. It is not always easy. Strike that it is almost never easy.

I find that when I am struggling with this question I am hurting and need someone to trust, but either depression or fear or a new situation makes me feel it extra difficult to lean on someone. I usually end up leaning on some one although if I don’t find a proper outlet before I burst I am not always happy with the results.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I feel safer the more they know. That way they can’t make up all the shit behind my back, everyone knows it’s not true.

wundayatta's avatar

People tell me a lot of things. Then they stop talking to me. I wonder if they wish they had not told me what they told me. It hurts, because I get attached to people, especially when the have shared important things with me that they don’t share with other people. Then they disappear and I don’t know what I’ve done.

I am safe. I do not share confidences. Especially important ones. I don’t need to brag to anyone about what I know. All I want is to help people. I don’t know how many times people have looked at me and said, amazement in their voices, “You actually care!”

Well, I do, and maybe people can’t handle that. Especially when my caring has encouraged them to talk to me.

People have shared all kinds of stuff with me. I share things in return. I can’t hurt anyone because I know they can hurt me. It’s a sort of personal version of MAD or mutually assured destruction, and to me it means we can say anything, because we are both at risk.

Why would you begin to share, and then cut it off? Does your sense of safety get the better of you? Once someone knows you, you better not share any more? Makes no sense to me. What am I missing?

glacial's avatar

Only online.

Bellatrix's avatar

I am a pretty open person – but with caution. I don’t tell people I don’t know well everything about myself. I don’t tell people about my financial situation, health issues, where I work and what I do. I might discuss things on a superficial level but not in any detail that would allow them to use the information. It’s, as usual, all about the context. Who am I talking to, what is our relationship, what is the information I could reveal, and what could that person do with that info.

augustlan's avatar

I’m an open book, and have never felt unsafe because of it.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Know your enemy, as the saying goes. I would say it just stands to reason that you are safer the fewer people know you and know about you.

DancingMind's avatar

It must be that I feel safer, why I try to hide as much as I do… I don’t know myself well enough, though, to know if it’s that I feel safer that people don’t know, or if it’s the act of hiding, that makes me feel safer. I generally do trust people. At least I think I do. I believe they mean well, and when we’re the same room I even believe it’s okay that we are. It’s when I walk away, or when there’s a lull, or when there’s a change in direction or subject, that I become painfully aware of everything I’ve exposed. That I smiled too much, laughed too loud, admitted to liking too many things. They must have seen it.Or if not them, someone else who was watching. It! It! I don’t know what it is. Just that it’s what I’m scared of, and what I need to conceal.

I share here, and I don’t feel unsafe. I just feel that, in writing, someone can skim, can skip. I don’t have to waste their time, jam my words into their ears. Eyes have lids.
My words can richocet and go into cyber-oblivion. I tell myself, this is why it’s okay. I tell myself, it’s not because I want anyone to hear.

I’m practiced at keeping myself concealed. I have difficulty speaking beyond a low monotone, and when I hear myself I sound so strange, so I don’t like to speak. Lights are so bright, and people’s faces so loud, so I don’t like to look. I’m not allowed to speak up or look up anyway, so this is all fine. I’m not allowed to share. So I don’t. It’s more than habit. I have rules. These are some of my rules.

I crumple when I make mistakes, because even though that’s what they are I don’t know how to believe it’s all they are. I feel my mistakes are the reality of my incompetence oozing, oxidizing, bright and apparent. That the more I do, the more time I take—it’s that old child’s game of Don’t Wake Daddy! and the longer I press the button on the alarm, the more like I’ll get caught. By who? By what? I don’t know. It. It’s just it.

I’m scared of how much I care. Of that pain I feel, actually feel, it hurts, when I tear myself away from someone or something. Of how much worse it would have been had I stayed longer, divulged more. Of how much worse it would have been if I hadn’t been the one to pull, if it had just ripped. Everything feels like hangnails, precarious and snagging and painful, and it’s just a matter of time before all I have are bloody cuticles. Is that a weird thing to feel? I don’t know. I just need to keep my fingers painted, and pull when I have to. Everything, then, will be fine. And I feel somehow strong…. which must mean I feel safe. This must be safe. I must feel safe.

augustlan's avatar

@DancingMind What a wonderful glimpse of your inner monologue! Thanks for sharing that with us. It sounds an awful lot like anxiety…do you think it makes your life harder than it needs to be?

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