Coffee Rhetoric: TMI ! TMI-I-I-I-I !!!

June 15, 2007

TMI ! TMI-I-I-I-I !!!

I was flipping through the latest issue of Jane Magazine, when I came across the back stories section. I was struck and somewhat amused by Jane senior editor, Josh Lyon's story, "There's no such thing as TMI." Josh seemed a bit put out by the notion of there being a such thing as too much shared information. He relayed a story regarding recent a dinner gathering he had with friends, including a new person one of his friends was dating. Apparently they were all sitting around the table swapping sordid tales (much to new girl's discomfort), when one of Josh's friends mentioned she was experimenting with using a strap-on in the boudoir. Newbie had heard enough and finally yelled, "TMI!" ... which marked an abrupt end (screeching noise and all) to the seedy table talk. Josh wrote:
"TMI (short for Too Much Information) "is my most hated phrase in the English language. I live by the words of Roman playwright Terence: 'Nothing that is human is alien to me.' "
Josh further justifies why he believes it's absolutely crucial for people to share baseless bits of personal information about themselves, to strangers. He even went so far as to label those of us who've no desire to hear said information, as being insecure and neurotic about the heaping dish of skankiness being force fed to us. Josh made sure to absolve himself from that equation however, by citing the only exception to the TMI rule as immediate family members discussing their sex lives- (apparently his father gets nostalgic about the hookers during his time in 'Nam). Hmm, seems as if what's good for the goose is not good enough for the gander. Listen, I have been at the receiving end of some unsavory anecdotes told by people I barely know, or only know on a casual basis. My best friend and I swap some delicious, intimate, and intimately disgusting details with one another... but we're close friends. I couldn't fathom making small talk with some stranger at the bus stop or in line somewhere or with someone from work, about how often I get gas, how noxious it smelled, or the details of my menstrual cycle. I can just picture the scenario now:
  • Stranger: Good morning. How are you?
  • Me: Great... except, I had a sharp pain in my stomach this morning, and had to high-tail it to the loo. I dropped a major and soupy slip-sloppin' load. Must've been that curried stuff I ate. So... How are you?"
  • Stranger: Ummm... alllriiighty then. *turns away from me and shudders with disgust and dismay*
Talk of yeast infections, cooter creams, sweaty boobs and what have you would undoubtedly be met with gasps, disapproving scowls, and "La la la la, I don't wanna hear it!" songs. So the fact that I've no desire to engage the DHL deliveryman right before my lunch break, about the wicked case of mud butt he contracted the previous day does not make me a neurotic prude. Imploring the mailman not to go into explicit detail about his bowel movement and the dubious burrito he ate prior to blowing up the bathroom at my job doesn't make me insecure either! Why is my desire NOT to hear about dookey stories indicative of underlying insecurities or some related neurosis?? Josh Lyon couldn't be any more wrong with his assessment. It's not a matter of censorship or someone being an uptight prude... it's a matter of principle and keeping some things sacred and to yourSELF, not everyone is interested in hearing about his drippy experience with strawberry Nesquick and coke ('caine), or his friend's experience with a strap-on. It's also a matter of respect (of other people's boundaries and space) and social conduct. Someone walking into a shared office early in the A.M. (in the presence of their supervisor) before coffee has had a chance to co-mingle with blood and declaring, "I'm soooo sore. I've been having anal sex alllll weekend!" is not only discourteous but unnecessary and unacceptable work fodder. Save it for someone who cares, who is actually willing to listen and asks for the details during a break away from from everyone else, and who doesn't mind the visual it paints. A colleague and friend recently told me that while she's open-minded and have no qualms about listening to offbeat and titillating tales of sex, drugs, and doo-doo, people share a lot of nasty nougats with her she doesn't want to hear. Because she has no obvious barriers up, she ends up listening anyway... prompting the storyteller to get even more gratuitous with the details. I think the same can be said about me, but even I have a limit. Diarrhea, anal itching, dubious rashes outside the private parts, weird vagina leakage and stories of the like are examples of where I draw the line... particularly if I hardly even know you. There are even some subjects that I refuse to blog about, and the loads of dirty laundry I share are being read by people who are going out of their way to do so. I'm not forcing my tales down people's throats and belittling those who wish not to read my blog, labeling them as socially inept and insecure because they don't want to. Sharing and listening to delicious sex stories and gruesome details about bodily functions has a specific time and place... there is also a rhythm to delivering such information, making it fun to giggle over. Dumping it on someone unexpectedly (particularly if it's not dirty boudoir banter with a significant other) is rude, inconsiderate, and plain tacky and I reserve my right say whether or not want to hear it.