General Question

cinquestar's avatar

My friend is picking his nose and eating it in public. Should I just bring it up and say something? Or do I just let him keep living his happy life doing his thing? If I should bring it up, how?

Asked by cinquestar (78points) July 7th, 2009

He is old enough to be keeping this habit discreet, however, I have been watching it happen for a few weeks with building intensity. He is biting his fingernails, and picking his nose and eating all the remnants of everything. I’ve watched other friends observe the behavior and though no one has acknowledged it out loud to anyone, I think they have noticed it too.

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50 Answers

Jayne's avatar

And another joke cut down by editing.

whatthefluther's avatar

Well, you call this person a friend, and as a friend, you should point out inappropriate behavior, don’t you think?

applesaucemanny's avatar

he’s eating his nose? just kidding I know what you mean
well I’ve read something before that said one of the best ways to stop a habit is having to tell a friend the habit and to tell you to stop every time you do it so you should try that
good luck!

filmfann's avatar

get one of those dog shocking collars.

whatthefluther's avatar

Perhaps the questioner got eaten with everything else?!

DeanV's avatar

It could be a nervous tic like thing. Let him keep doing it, but make it clear to him it’s a little weird, and not exactly socially acceptable.

Grisaille's avatar

What kind of friend are you? You’ve allowed him to be publicly embarrassed like that?!


The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Friends sometimes need to be the ones to bring up uncomfortable truths because few other people will.

cinquestar's avatar

Ok. So I obviously need to tell him. HOW???

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Respect that this could be embarassing for them and emphasize that you are their friend.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Next time he does it say, “Dude, did you just eat a booger???” He may not realize he’s doing it in public if it comes so “natural” to him. shudder

chyna's avatar

First time you tell him: “Dude, it’s not cool to pick your nose in public.” I wouldn’t bring up the eating part. Each time after that, “Dude, told you to stop picking in public.”

Bluefreedom's avatar

Something like this:

“It is inherently wrong for you to eat boogers in public. There is no redeeming protein value in eating your mucous deposits. If this kind of behavior persists, I will be forced to either pile drive you into an available bench or I will punch you in the nose and break your finger. Your choice. And remember, I am now and always will be your friend.”

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

you can go the indirect route
like if you have kids you can say oh jonny’s eating his boogers again, i don’t know how to make him stop or something or other like oh i read in this article that there are a gagillion different microbes in our noses and hope he gets the point

BBSDTfamily's avatar

How old is he? Really, you need to bring it up before someone brings it up in public and embarrasses your friend.

AstroChuck's avatar

Just give him a napkin and tell him bon appetit.
Btw, I love this question. I can’t believe that I’m the only one to give it a GA.

chyna's avatar

I can’t for the life of me, figure out why I’m following it, much less why I answered it.

AstroChuck's avatar

@chyna- Because this question has “quality” written all over it.

Grisaille's avatar

It truly is the most pressing question of our generation.

aprilsimnel's avatar

“building intensity”? Sounds like a manifestation of anxiety to me. What’s wrong with him, then? Why is he so nervous that’s he’s trying to eat the detritus of his body? Just telling him that you can see what he’s doing isn’t going to help unless he can get to what it is that’s making him do it. But when you can get him alone, tell him anyway and ask what’s the matter.

cinquestar's avatar

This is so hard for me. I’m going to dinner and drinks with him right now and will let you know if I get up the guts to do this. I like the answers that bluefreedom and astrochuck have given. I think I will try some original combination of those.

Secretly, I wish I could just leave this page up and let him borrow my computer…

But geez, I’m not the passive aggressive type. I’m extraordinarily known for my powers of directness. Often too frank, too curt, and too forward for comfort’s sake. But it is nice to see my own abilities also have their shadow side.

Wish me luck. Or wish me a martini. Whatever works to get the job done, right?
Thanks for all your support so far.

augustlan's avatar

Luck and alcohol to you, @cinquestar! Welcome to Fluther. :)

SeventhSense's avatar

I would buy him something to eat. He sounds like he may be starving.
Or just smack him upside the head

jrpowell's avatar

OK, I was thinking he was 13.

Old enough to drink and a snot eater. That could be rough. Do you know of anything else going on that could be stressing him out?

Tink's avatar

Take a picture of him doing it, then post it somewhere so everyone can see it

whatthefluther's avatar

@johnpowell….I was thinking the same….actually, I thought 13 would be maybe too much. I think this one has gotten a bit too bizarre for me. Gotta go…

Grisaille's avatar

Too bizarre… even for wtf?

I think we may have gone off the deep end, boys and girls.

CMaz's avatar

Is your friend 2?

irocktheworld's avatar

WOW,you should deffinitely tell him.You could just say it nicely when no ones around,i hope everthing works out

Strauss's avatar

When you see him picking, hand him a handkerchief or a tissue, and tell him, “use this, dude!”

It may be that it is such a with him habit he is unaware he is doing it. (speaking as a former nailbiter, I know that was the case with me—the nails, not the boogies). I asked friends and family to call the behavior to my attention when it happened. I eventually overcame it.

Also, I agree with what others have said about his stress level. these kinds of behaviors may be stress-related. You’re his friend, ask if there’s anything you can do to help, even if it’s just to talk.

cinquestar's avatar

ok folks. So here’s the update. We went out last night and conveniently, he talked a lot, so he wasn’t picking. But when it was his turn to listen, he started picking. So I tried to maintain eye contact, which seemed to help. I asked him how he was doing, if he was stressed about anything, etc. Nothing came up.

AND THEN, at some point, he picked his nose and I grabbed his finger and pushed it towards his mouth in a joking way! He resisted, of course, and acted mildly offended. I know, I know, it’s kinda rude on my part. But we laughed. Maybe still too subtle. We’ll see. I’m easing into this.

Yetanotheruser, I really like your answer. I think it is a nice combination of respectful and direct. I’m always a fan of the substitution method. “Here, use this instead.” I always have a hanky in my bag. I’ll try it next time.

CMaz's avatar

Tell him to stop picking his nose or hit the road.
The opinion of a nose picker.
There is a time and place to pick. Eating is never an option.

aprilsimnel's avatar

It’s obviously an unconscious tic and he has to be told directly. Subtlety is a no go at this point. You know what? Not just you. Make it two of you, you and another mutual friend. Three is just ganging up, but with two people, perhaps he’ll be inclined to see that something’s wrong that two of his pals notice his nasal shenanigans.

CMaz's avatar

“It’s obviously an unconscious tic”. I will give you that.
But, once it goes from the finger to the tongue. It is a meal.

filmfann's avatar

I always used to tell my kids:
You can pick your friends, or you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friends nose.

cinquestar's avatar

I think he saw this posting. He was using my computer when I went to the bathroom and when he signed in to my gmail account, he saw that I was using Fluther (which he introduced me to). He said, “Are you using Fluther?” I said, “Yes.” And then I grabbed the computer away. I deleted the email from fluther that said that there was a new comment for the friend picking the nose question. You could literally see the words friend picking nose and eating it because I have gmail and the first lines of the message show in the inbox. I think he must have seen it. He had to have. He is one of the fastest readers I know. It scared me and my heart was beating fast.

But he hasn’t brought it up and I have only seen one little swipe of the nose with the side of his hand. And he quickly moved it away from his face. No nose picking. I’m sad that I wasn’t direct. But I really didn’t want to embarrass him.

I have tried to change my notifications from Fluther over and over, but it won’t save my settings to not have emails sent to me when there are comments or updates to questions I am following. Too bad on one hand. But no more boogers on the other. So what can I say?

Thank you to everyone who helped support me through this little quandary. I loved your answers and will let you know in a few days if the etiquette problems have been resolved.

bea2345's avatar

I’m sad that I wasn’t direct: at least you learned something about friendship (and so did I).

CMaz's avatar

Very cool! :-)

Tink's avatar

how sad :(

Strauss's avatar

Everybody’s doin’ it, doin’ it, doin’ it,
Pickin’ their nose and chewin’ it, chewin’ it,
Think it’s candy, but it’s not,
It’s a hot snot sundae with a booger on top!

Parody of Irving Berlin’s Everybody’s Doin’ It

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

It takes a lot to gross me out but this is one thing that really gives me the willies.

Just gross. (shudder)

NUNYA's avatar

And you kiss that mouth? UGH! The very thought makes be wanna barf! EWWWWWWWWWWW!!!

jazmina88's avatar

Fluther literally solved the problem by teh e-mail…...;I’m so sorry…....But I hope it’s done.

ENFPsoftie's avatar

It’s been my experience that guys are better than gals at both giving one another constructive criticism because they do so more directly. That said, how about: DUDE! PLEASE stop the nose picking and if you can’t stop at least use a tissue and stop eating what you pick because it’s flat-out nasty and disgusting.

Bellatrix's avatar

lololol oh dear! Well at least he now nose you are grossed out by his picking. If it happens again I would say something. Perhaps “did you pick a winner?” Or “what are you mining for up there?” or “a sandwich might be more nutritious if you’re that hungry”. It is probably a habit and he has become unaware he is doing it.

flutherother's avatar

You could always ask if he picked his nose when young. If he says yes, then say he could have picked a better one.

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