I’m writing this because day after day I leave my home and encounter a behavior that I find mildly disturbing. Most people I know frown upon gossip and try to refrain from speaking it. However, what about gossiping without speech? You might think that gossip requires some sort of verbal communication. Not necessarily.
There are those who, for lack of a better term, are nosy bodies. They might not speak about people’s activities but they are on the lookout. I’m talking about the ones who linger outside their homes, schools, Shuls, etc. They watch people coming and going and are aware of various tidbits of information in the lives of others. They are curious about all sorts of things that are not related to themselves and usually none of their business.
It always irritates me when I find these people watching me or others as if we are some sort of entertainment center for their amusement. I know this seems harmless to most people and it’s far from the worst thing in the world. However, let me tell you, for some self conscious or private people, this can be quite disconcerting. It could be that, yes, us shy types need to “get over it”, for this is part of life. Nevertheless, I believe it to be a flaw in the character of the onlooker. There are several reasons for this type of behavior.
a) The person doesn’t have enough of a life of his/her own and has nothing better to do than to be a nosy body.
b) The person is judgmental and fulfilling a need to measure the behavior of others against their own. i.e. *I* would never come to shul so late, or *I* would never wear a skirt so short, etc.
c) The person is unsure as to their own behavior and observes others in hopes of learning what is “acceptable”.
I’m sure there may be other reasons as well, but none that I can find to justify it. Please keep in mind I’m not referring to the occasional glance that we are all wont to do when something piques our interest. I’m referring to habitual watching of other people. It’s a sickness and it infringes on the privacy of others. Just because one has eyes doesn’t mean they need to be in everyone’s business.
In addition I’d like to clarify that it is always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings. This is not the same thing as sticking your nose into what other people are doing and how, when, where, and with whom they are doing it with.
Life is too full of things that need to be done to waste them on unwelcome over-concern with the affairs of others. So let us all tend to the blessings we have been granted, smile and move on. G-d bless
P.S. I wish I could post this in Hebrew and English all over town in hopes of putting an end to this sort of thing. Sadly, don’t think it would help much. The nonverbal Yenta would continue to exist, for most people chalk it up to harmless curiosity and with their Leopardian Complex (yes I made that up) are helpless in the ability to change their spots.