Perfectly Healthy Woman Panhandles As Car Accident Victim

NY bumWatched by news reporters, a perfectly healthy, woman, perhaps in her early 20s was caught panhandling.

How Did She Do It?

As her workday began, she would dress up as an old woman and hobble on a pair of crutches.  In fact, she was so bent over that her back was nearly parallel with the ground.  As she walked, she carried a paper cup in her hand for collecting cash donations.  By her appearance, pedestrians were quite convinced she was really handicapped.

This woman hung out on streets such as 5th Avenue in downtown New York.  She would only walk down avenues that contained eccentric stores as Gucci, Prada, Nieman Marcus, and Tiffany’s-locations where she knew that the more affluent and generous people shopped.

On busy days she would collect as many as 50 donations in one hour.  As she approached passer-bys she used lines as “Please help me” and those who gave, she thanked and said “God bless you.”

Confronted By News Reporters

She was secretly watched by a female news reporter for at least three days.  When she was finished begging for the day, she would commute on a bus out to Queens.  It was there where she parked her minivan and change into her normal clothes and then exited without the crutches.  She dressed in nice clothes and wore Ugg boots.

The reporter stated, “It’s a totally different looking woman that emerges when the van pulls over.  Why it’s a miracle, she is walking perfectly fine and the crutches are gone.”

Another reporter was told that she was paralyzed in a car accident.  He asked her “What happened?”  She responded, “Accident.”

The news team’s cameras recorded her crossing streets, meeting with friends, walking up stairs, and stopping as stores to shop as she carried a cell phone.  Finally the reporter confronted her and told her “We had been watching you for a few days and you don’t really need those crutches do you?  We saw you this morning walking perfectly fine.”

How did she respond to that?  She simply ignored the reporter and continued walking down the street.

My Advice

Remember this story.  Some bums are well-to-do people dressed up in costumes.

When approached by such a person, don’t be so eager to give them money.  If you see repeatedly see the same beggar hanging out in a specific location, this should raise a red flag.  If this individual approaches you, tell them you observed them numerous times and you are suspicious of them.  Suggest a place they can go for help.  Find out these locations.  If you’re able to snap a picture of with your cell phone, do so and submit it to local authorities.

For those who commute to work and back using public transportation, you should not have to be approached by panhandlers every day.  Downtown shoppers should also be able to shop without having to run into them.  Not only do they annoy people, but they hurt businesses in areas they hang out in.  By giving to a beggar, you’re only promoting such behavior.

OTHER ARTICLES BY CAN U IDENTIFY WITH THIS:

Mysophobia – About the Germ Fanatic

Gossiping Is Annoying and Immature

The Myths of A Compulsive Shopper

I Hate Overly Long CDs

Ten Ways to Become a Better Conversationalist

Ten Ways to Become a Better Conversationalist

Conversation by Patrick Bohnen

Conversation by Patrick Bohnen (Photo credit: Kraemer Family Library)

Doesn’t it seem like some people have lots of friends and others have very few.  You might say that it’s unfair.  However, you may have found some people are more fun to hang around with than others.  Why is that?  Well, it may be personal chemistry or the fact that they’re positive, upbeat people.  There may be many other reasons for this, but the one factor that I would like to zero in on is conversation skills.  Conversation skills often make or break potential relationships and may help or harm existing ones.

Why?  One who is fluent with words and can confidently express their feelings or insights on a specific topic and at the same time, entertain their audience, is a good conversationalist.  Such a person attracts people and makes friends easily.  Not only are they interesting to listen to, but knowledgeable on what subject they speak about.  Also, once one realizes they are good listeners, she is likely to turn to this person again and again for advice or feedback.  People will seek out that great conversationalist time and time again.

Before we can understand what makes a great conversationalist great, we must focus in on the poor conversationalists.  I would like to categorize poor conversationalists into two groups: the quiet and the blabbermouths.

Quiet People

The quiet person typically has nothing to say.  He just sits there silently and may or may not pay attention to what is being said.  Rarely, if ever does he have anything worthwhile to contribute to a conversation and when he speaks, his responses are usually monosyllabic in nature (“yeah” or “no”) or single sentences.  They usually speak in a monotone voice.

Getting this person to speak is a big challenge.  He’s like the “are we having fun yet?” type of person.  He appears to be apathetic and may be thought to lack intelligence.  It seems like he has no opinion about anything.    He often annoys people in one-on-one situations because he leaves it up to the other person to make all the effort in keeping the conversation going.  Such an individual is often a loner with few, if any, friends.

Usually, the quiet type is not too sociable.  If they see someone they don’t know or care for, they won’t stop and say “hello.”  Many of them are introverted.  Since they lack self-confidence, they feel it’s best just to remain quiet.  Some are shy and unwilling to volunteer to help others in need.  Likewise, if they see something that is going wrong in a public environment (such as a mechanical failure in the workplace), instead of reporting the problem to authorized personnel, they assume someone else will.

Blabbermouths

Then there are the blabbermouths.  Blabbermouths dominate conversations.  They are dying to get noticed by others.  Likewise, they don’t like to listen and may not care how you feel.  They talk and talk and talk whether you care what they’re saying or not.  At the same time, they go into great detail on subjects sometimes to the point where you want to tell them to shut up.  Some go on and on and don’t care if you get a word in edgewise.  Once you finally respond back, they interrupt you before you can finish.  Most of them can’t seem to express all of their thoughts fast enough.

Usually these people are extroverted and are rarely, if ever afraid to say what’s on their mind.  Such people are typically sociable and crave attention from others.

Blabbermouths can be subcategorized:

First are the whiners/complainers.  They just have to complain about something and in the meantime, assume you want to hear their personal beefs.  Most likely, they want you to feel sorry for them.

Second are the know-it-alls.  These are people with overinflated egos who want to convince you that whatever you know about any particular subject, they know even more.  Any experience you have lived through, they lived through a worse one.   Any place you’ve been, they’ve been there too and seen more than you did.

Third are the gossipers.  In order to gain recognition and approval by personal acquaintances, they put others down.  I cover them more in my article: Gossiping Is Annoying and Immature.   Unlike the other blabbermouths, they are willing to listen, hoping they’ll learn more about the people around them.

Fourth are the self-lovers (for lack of a better term).  Like the know-it-alls, they have false, overinflated egos.  While they like to go on and on bragging about themselves,  but deep down inside they feel insecure or unhappy.  They must justify that by trying to get others to notice them.  They are often annoying and don’t want to hear about others.

My Social Anxiety as a Poor Conversationalist

Up to my late 30s, I have been the quiet type.  Trying to find things to say was typically next to impossible.  Afraid of making a fool of myself, I remained motionless and quiet.  In social situations I seldom contributed to conversations.  Although I dreaded personal gatherings, felt too antisocial if I missed them.

While sitting at a table with others I was usually the only one with nothing to say.  This was especially true when coworkers would go out for lunch or drinks after work.  Work meetings were unpleasant for me as well.  I would listen to others and noticed everyone there had things to say, but not me.  As a result, I would become sweaty and shaky and turn red in the face.

I later realized I had a form of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).  Not only did I feel inferior in front of groups of people, but also felt that if I did one little thing wrong, I would be adversely judged by them.  I had a low self-esteem because it seemed like I had very few if any friends.  I have had jobs working in offices where I noticed coworkers stopping at each others’ desks and talking, but never stopping to talk to me. I was worried that people thought I was a boring person.

I remember going out on dates in my mid 20s.  On some dates, making conversation was difficult.  It’s like I let some potentially great women slide through my hands because neither one of us knew what to say to each other.  One woman even constantly fidgeted with her straw wrapper because she became bored.  Needless to say, we had only one meeting and that was it.

How to Improve Your Conversation Skills

Being a good conversationalist is a valuable personal art indeed.  This is one component of humanity that makes a person popular and successful.  Still, no matter how prosperous and well-liked people are, most everyone has room for improvement.

Making great conversation isn’t always easy because people have different lifestyles and interests.  Why some may be extremely compassionate about a particular subject, say astrology, others will find it absolutely boring.  Hence, there is no one formula for making great conversation, but there are tactics that can make a discussion more fulfilling.

Imagine that you see someone you don’t know but would like to get acquainted with.  How do you approach him or her?   Say you see someone of the opposite sex you might want to take out on a date, how do you strike up a conversation?   Or when you’re alone with someone you know and want to pass the time away talking.

As you already know, strangers are not willing to talk to others unless they have to.  Making small-talk or chatting about the weather never leads anywhere (unless perhaps, there was a bona fide storm in your community).

Here are additional tactics:

  1. Speak with emotion – Have some vocal variety in your voice.  Speaking in a dull monotone voice will never get you anywhere.
  2. Talk about something you have a genuine interest in – The more knowledgeable you are about a specific topic, the more prepared you are to talk about it.  Don’t pretend you know about something you don’t and don’t make assumptions.   After all, you don’t know who you’re talking to.  If you make a guess on how something works and the other person realizes that you’re “dead wrong”, you’ll look like a big horse’s ass.  For example, when CDs first came out, I guessed how sounds were transmitted by the players.  Though the signals are composed of only 0s and 1s, I thought every digit from 0 to 9 was used.   Little did I know, I was talking to a computer engineer.
  3. Present an object – If you have something in hand that people like to look at such as magazines, photographs or souvenirs, this is a good place to begin.  People love touching and looking at things, even the not-so-talkative folks.  If you do present an object to a stranger, keep it in good taste.
  4. Tell a story – People love to hear stories about tragedies, mishaps, or controversial subjects.  Likewise, they love to talk about things pertaining to their personal interests.  Nobody wants to hear about matters they can’t relate to or ordinary life stories.  They love to hear about setbacks or troubles one has experienced.  Such examples may be traffic accidents, run-ins with the law, or terrible mistakes one has made.  Subjects as politics and sports are great providing the other person has an interest in them and you remain neutral.
  5. Ask questions — By asking a question, you can solicit a response from the other person.  Such questions may start out with: “How do you feel about…?”, “Did you know that….?”, or “What if…?”   Ask only open-ended questions.  Yes or no questions drop a conversation dead in its tracks.  If you have trouble coming up with a question, ask someone something that you already know just to hear what they have to say.  If you want to know more about something, ask questions, but not unless you “get the ball rolling.”
  6. Follow the topic — If the person starts talking about another aspect of the subject, talk about that aspect too.  If you don’t know much about it, gently sway them back to the original subject.
  7. Be polite – Talk as if you’re talking to someone at a formal occasion such as a wedding or funeral.  Don’t use profanity or make sexist, racist, or any other negatively opinionated remarks.  Even though a subject may upset you, don’t get emotional, especially if they say something you strongly disagree with.  If you already know the person, you are free to them in their own language.  Don’t get sarcastic or run down people in other walks of life.
  8. Stay positive – People would much rather talk to an optimist rather than a pessimist.  By bringing up the positive side of an aspect, you give them a better impression of you.
  9. Don’t interrupt — Never, ever cut a person off before she is done talking.  After all, they would like to get their point across to you just as much as you would like to get your point across to them.  Interrupting them is a sure sign that shows you don’t care about what they have to say.  Also, never try to dominate the conversation.
  10. 10. Keep them entertained – Don’t bore a person with long, uninteresting details or technical jargon they’re not familiar with.  Talk only about things that are likely to affect them directly.  Use some humor, but keep it in good taste.

Join Toastmasters

If you’re an extremely poor conversationalist or you just want to improve your speaking skills, you may want to join Toastmasters International.  For those of you not familiar with this organization, they are simply a group of members who get together once a week to sharpen their skills on speaking in public.  This club helps its members overcome their fear of speaking in front of audiences while helping participants further excel in their professional careers.

Here you will give five to ten minute speeches, evaluate other speakers, or participate in table topics.  Table topics are random subjects each member speaks on for about one minute, but nobody knows what their topic will be until they are given it.  This teaches members to speak effectively “on their toes.”  Sometimes, you’ll be assigned to evaluate a speaker.  Best of all, people learn to speak by watching others and learning from their mistakes.  This is a great club and everyone has fun attending it including myself.  It has helped me sharpen my conversation skills.

Toastmasters Int. is a worldwide organization with clubs in most all major cities and suburban areas.  With a little research, you can find one in your community.  There is a fee to joining, but it is about $50 a year or less.

Learn, Learn, Learn

The more you learn about life and the world you live in, the more you’ll know.  The more you know, the better a conversationalist you will be.  Keep up on the news in your town and current events.  If you want to know more about a particular subject, research it or seek advice from those who know it well.  It goes without saying, the internet is a great source of information with social media sites (as Facebook) and libraries of articles.  Finally, listen to how good conversationalists talk and try to follow their examples.

Other Articles:

Gossiping is Annoying and Immature

Speaking In Front of an Audience/Brave Rooney

The Damaging Remark

Thou Shalt Not Compare

Small Ways to A Happy Life

People That Eat Too Fast

A typical fast food stand on Blackpool promena...

A typical fast food stand on Blackpool promenade. Ohhhhh this picture was used in one of my fave blogs – the ever lovely lifehacker! 🙂 lifehacker.com/5332352/what-to-eat-and-avoid-at-chain-res… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of us eat too fast.  How many?  That’s hard to say, unless you can find a study done on the subject, but there isn’t any as far as I am aware.  However, the total percentage of all people may be far greater than you might think.   In this post, I would like to alert my readers the dangers of wolfing down your food.  I feel like a hypocrite writing such an article, because I’ve done it all of my life.  I don’t know!  Maybe I was born with this habit.

Why Do We Eat So Fast?

Eating fast is a bad habit and one that many of us have developed over time.  But why do we do it?  Since I’ve done it for so many years, perhaps I could tell you.  There are several reasons:

  • We’re constantly busy –  That goes without saying.  Nowadays, most everyone is busy, especially parents that raise children, attend college, and work full time.  We’re constantly on the go and are trying to juggle multiple duties at once.  Even those that only do one or two of the above three things experience stress in their everyday lives.  If it isn’t our basic responsibilities, it could be activities we engage in outside our homes.  Say if we belong to clubs, like bowling leagues, this adds to our busy schedules, leaving us even less time to relax.  This is especially true for business men on the go who work long hours each day.
  • We’re activity-oriented –  Whether we raise families, go to school, or work over 40 hours a week, or perhaps do none of these things, many of us are still workaholics.  Whatever it is, we have something that we feel is extremely important to do.  This may mean maintaining our homes, building an online presence for ourselves (like blogging or making YouTube videos, etc), operating a home-based business, keeping up on the latest video games, etc, these things make us workaholics as well.  Anything we feel is an absolute must for us, it is our number one priority to make the time for it, even if we must skimp on our feeding time.
  • We must fit in a meal while running errands –  While this might overlap with the first two reasons, that is not always the case.  At times when we must do two or more errands under tight time restrictions, we may lack time to sit down and eat a decent meal.  This may be true for those who try to fit in scheduled appointments as getting a haircut, seeing a doctor, shopping for urgently needed items, picking the kids up from school, or any combination of duties requiring one to keep preset appointments or get things done by a certain time.  Although skipping lunch may seem like the thing to do, some of us can’t function so well when we’re hungry.  This is when we fit a meal in on-the-fly.  This is especially true when we’re running behind schedule.
  • We’re doing something else in the meantime –  Many of us eat while watching TV.  Other eat while driving, playing video games, solving puzzles, reading the news, etc.  During such activities, there are moments that require us to be extra alert and act quickly.  We might get cut off in traffic or some dramatic thing happens on TV.  Such events may make us want to quickly swallow that last bite so we can respond appropriately.  By finishing our food quickly, we can attend to our activities with clear minds.
  • We find eating too cumbersome or time consuming –  Those who eat fast aren’t always necessarily busy.  They just don’t have the patience to sit and chew food for minutes between bites.  Eating slowly seems so boring or a real big waste of time.  It’s like they believe they have something better to do, not always knowing what that is.  This is true for me.  Even though I’m not under any time restraints, I fool myself into thinking I am.
  • We anticipate what’s next –   Maybe it’s been several hours since we last had something to eat.  Possibly, it’s a particular food they have long anticipated to receive such as the arrival of a pizza they ordered over the phone.  Being in an environment where great varieties of appetizing foods are offered as a buffet or picnic brings great anticipation to big eaters.  Some can’t wait to finish what’s on their plate so they can move onto something else.  This may be true during food-sampling events.  It’s like: “Once I chomp down my steak, I want to try some of those desserts!”
  • We fear our food will get cold –  Just like coffee, food gets cold in a hurry.  Well it seems to anyway.  For some of us, there is nothing worse than eating cold food.  Yuck!   By gulping down our food, we can minimize the chances that it will.  Better yet, if your food gets cold, reheat it.  Most every house these days has a microwave.  Even if you’re eating at someone else’s house with a large group of people, it is much more polite to ask to use their microwave than to gulp down your food in front of them.
  • It’s a “learned behavior” –   Eating fast isn’t always associated with being busy.  Sometimes we just don’t have the patience to eat slowly.  This is especially true for those who live and/or work alone.  Since nobody sees them eat most of the time, they are free to eat in whatever manner they’re comfortable with.  After doing this for so many years, it’s become a habit and hence, we do it unconsciously.  It’s just like being a “led foot” on the accelerator of your car.  Remember, bad habits have a nasty way of hanging on.

 

I’ve Always Been a Fast Eater

Yes, I’ve developed a bad habit of eating fast since my early childhood.  Most everyone that I would come in contact with would be surprised or shocked because I would eat so fast.  They’re like: “How can you do that?”  I’m like: “You really think I ate that piece of food fast?  I don’t think so!  That’s my normal eating speed.”  My mother would always say, “You eat like you’re going to a fire?”

Why I eat so fast?  I don’t always know.  For me, it’s become a “learned behavior.”  It’s just the way I’ve always consumed food and I see nothing wrong with it.  A great deal of the time I can attribute it to all of the reasons above, but always making excuses for doing it becomes a cop-out and a way to convince myself that it’s OK and I need not change.   Still, a few people have complained about me eating too fast.

Finishing my food before others wasn’t so pleasant either.  All I could do is just sit at the table until everyone else was done.  In some cases I could excuse myself early, but I feel doing that all the time is uncouth.

I have a strong urge to wash my hands immediately after I eat.  That means, I pick up a piece of food and gulp it down so I could get rid of the wrapper or container it’s in right away and rush off to the nearest sink to wash up.  I hate eating and then handling something like a remote control or computer keyboard while my fingers are oily or soiled with food.  It’s just not sanitary.  Hence, instead of sitting down to eat something, I just make it a part of my walk around the house.

Bad Impressions Fast Eaters Create

However, eating too fast is just plainly uncouth.  “Inhaling” your food is bad manners and might give other the impression that you’re a pig.   Those who live with you may not think too much about it since they’re used to seeing you do that.  On the other hand, eating too fast in front of a perfect stranger might scare a potential friend away.

Whenever you want to win the approval of someone you don’t know (such as a date or business client) and you decide to discuss matters at a restaurant, you must not eat fast.  If your potential acquaintance observes that you gulp down your food without chewing it, they’ll get the impression that you only care about stuffing your face and are not concerned so much about them.   As a result, they’ll lose interest in you and will want to put a quick end to the meeting.

Eating fast might lead to sloppiness.  By shoving too much food into your mouth at once, you may end up dribbling it down your chin or spilling it on your shirt.  Neglecting to cut your food into bite sized pieces may cause bits of food to hang out of your mouth while trying to chew.  Not only are you being sloppy and gross: your attention is suddenly diverted away from the person who’s speaking to you.  If you happen to make a mess of yourself, as spilling food down the front of your shirt, you are suddenly under fire to clean it up.  As you do, you ignore what that person said and they’ll realize that you just weren’t listening.

If you want a second meeting with your new acquaintance, please, don’t eat so fast!  Not only will you gross them out, but you may shock them as well.  They might think you’re unscrupulous, selfish, and childish.  It’s like “Hey, this guy has no class whatsoever!”  If they find you’re a sloppy eater, they may doubt your competency in all other aspects of this potential relationship.

Health Problems Associated with Eating Too Fast

Apparently, eating too fast is very unhealthy because:

  • You tend to overeat –  This is because it takes approximately 20 minutes for your stomach to inform your brain that it is full.  The communication process between your brain and stomach is vital in controlling your appetite.  Hence, by gulping down your food, you’re sending a massive amount of calories into your body-a lot more than it really needs.  Imagine you’re ordering a pizza.  You are famished and want it delivered ASAP.   Would you call every pizza delivery service in town to ensure you receive one promptly?  Of course not!  You would end up with more pizzas than you can possibly eat.  Eating too fast has this same effect.
  • You risk indigestion and weight gain –  Now you have an excessive amount of food in your stomach, making the digestive process more difficult than it needs to be.  Your natural hunger and fullness signals have been delayed, leaving you to depend on your desires and emotions to tell you when it’s time to quit.  This often leads to indigestion and excessive weight gain.
  • Frequent bowel movements –  By eating too fast, you are putting more food into your body than it needs.  What does your body do with the excessive food?  It sends it out as waist.
  • Heartburn and acid reflux –  Anyone who eats too fast is prone to developing gastro esophageal reflux disease or GERD.  Excessive acid from the stomach splashes up into the esophagus which leads to heartburn and chest pain.
  • Flatulence and bloating –  If you shovel down your food, you are also swallowing excessive air with each bite.  Not only are you increasing your chances of getting heartburn, you now have a large quantity of food in your stomach forcing it to expand.  Meanwhile, your body needs a way to get rid of that extra air.  This is when flatulence occurs.

This is just an analogy of eating too fast.  Imagine you’re working on an assembly line assembling florescent lights and your job is to insert the light bulbs (you are the stomach).  Once some fixtures reach your station, you discover the light sockets are not securely in place or the wiring is coming undone (the poorly digested food).  This is because the guys ahead of you (the teeth and the saliva) aren’t doing a very good job inserting their parts (chewing the food).  Before you can insert the bulbs, you must fix their negligent work.  Needless to say, you are becoming fatigued and overworked (indigestion) unless you return the faulty work to those responsible.   How would you feel about your job?

Do you still want to continue to eat fast?  If not, keep in mind that digestion starts in the mouth, not the stomach.  Your teeth need to do their share of the work to make further breakdown easier for the small intestines.

Conclusion

It is best to make each meal last for 20 minutes.  Again, this is the amount of time it takes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full.  Simply, lay down your fork or piece of food (such as a hamburger) between bites and take some extra time to chew thoroughly.  Take sips of water between bites.  This way you can savor and enjoy your food more.   Also, don’t do anything else when you’re eating.

Gossiping Is Annoying and Immature

English: Gossiping Taken from the churchyard. ...

English: Gossiping Taken from the churchyard. This group of riders chatted for a good ten minutes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whenever we find out that something has gone wrong in someone’s life or someone made a big mistake, we all would like to know all the details about this.  Also, some of us strive to find out everything we can about coworkers, family members, or friends by becoming extremely observant, or nosy, should I say.  I like to refer to these people as “fault sniffers”, commonly coined as gossipers.

My Foster Mother Was a Gossiper

I was raised in a foster home of 8 children.  Our mother was very critical about every one of us and our flaws.  It was like, if one of us developed a problem, even at 4 years of age, we would more likely have that problem for the rest of our lives.  If there was something we were not so good at or if we made some kind of silly mistake, she would blab about it to the rest of the family and to even her relatives.  Even if you were just a young kid, say under 10 years old, every little stupid thing you’ve done was treated as if it were a traffic violation or crime that went down on your record.  Mom was evil, critical, and would deliberately do things to cause friction and humiliation within the family.

Even as we reached adulthood, our mother would never stop gossiping.  She felt that since she raised us, she indefinitely owned us.  After we had all left home, she would come and visit us frequently.  Whenever she was over, she would ask us lots of questions and poke around through every room in our homes just to see what she could find.

Surely enough, each one of us has made some kind of decision that she disagreed with.  For me, I had purchased my first home in 1988 and decided to have a young couple move in with me as tenants.  Because they were not so wealthy I allowed them to live there for $150 per month, especially since they agreed to do most of the work around the house.  Mother felt that I was being taken advantage of and told me I should charge them $300 per month, which was more than they could afford.   She told me how I should handle all my affairs including groceries and utilities.  I stood firm on doing what I thought was right.  So what did she do?  She circulated this news among the entire family.

She was the ultimate news source.  I would hear all kinds of interesting news from her as she criticized decisions others had made.  For example, if someone purchased a large ticket item she thought was lucrative (like a TV, etc), she would tell everyone about it.  One of my sisters sold every piece of furniture they had so her husband could fly down to Texas.  She had to tell everybody about that.

Finally, with everyone my mother had met including our spouses and friends, she had to find out as much about them as possible.  As for my biological sister’s boyfriend, she would ask me numerous questions about him, where he was from, his lifestyle, etc.  It’s like she had to know everything about everyone who crossed her path.  She was hoping to discover something extremely unusual or wrong with them.  I saw this as a sign of insecurity or inadequacy on her part. By finding fault in others, this may have made her feel better about herself.

Why People Gossip

Why do people gossip?  It surely doesn’t take a PhD in psychology to answer this question.  Not only must we satisfy our yearning to find about others’ mishaps, but to also justify for our inner feelings of inadequacy.  The more we can find out about our everyday atmosphere and the people in it, the greater the sense of power we feel we have.  Once we gather a great wealth of information, we can’t wait to share it with everyone in our social circles.

Through gossiping, some people acquire a false sense of self-esteem.  By finding out as much as they can about what others are doing and what’s happening in their neighborhoods, communities, and workplaces, some feel they have an edge on everyone else.  Once they pass on the pertinent info they discovered, they get a great feeling inside as they believe they won the approval of others.  To them, it is an assurance they’ll strengthen their casual relationships and be recognized as a knowledgeable person.

Our Natural Curiosities

We like to find out as much as we can about our neighbors.  So we do things like listen for noises going on outside our homes, observe how people keep up their yards, gaze in the windows of homes after dark, or scope out other peoples’ possessions as cars, boats, etc.  Once we gather some info, we chat about it with others to see how they feel and hopefully, find out even more.

Like we observe our neighbors, we love to find out what goes on in our community.  It all begins with watching other drivers on the road.  Some of us love to gaze in the windows of moving vehicles to see what other drivers are doing (like talking on a cell phone) or who is driving.  If we see a motorist whom was pulled over by the police, we would like to know the details of what exactly happened.  Traffic accidents raise our level of curiosity even more.  We have the tendency to slow down and inspect the scene to see what vehicles were involved and what damage has been done.  Oh how we wish we could have seen the accident when it happened.

Not only do we observe drivers, but we look for enviromental changes too.  Construction sparks our curiosity as well.  For example, if we see a building going up, we’d like to know what it will be.  As for road construction, we’d like to know why they’re tearing up the road.

No matter where we are or who we’re with, we have a strong desire to find out unusual things about somebody.  Now, I mean some extremely weird things!  The more unusual these things are, the greater it sparks our curiosity.  It may begin with witnessing a street fight, seeing someone knock over a shelf of things in a grocery store, or sighting someone who just got pulled over the by police.

This natural curiosity dates back to our grade school days.  If someone has an usual mental of physical disability, we would like to know as much about it as we can.  If one or more of our peers failed miserably in school or even flunked a grade, this sparks a great amount of curiosity as well.

It continues on throughout high school and into our working years.  Most everyone has a natural curiosity towards their coworkers, the amount they earn, and their lifestyles.  Most of all, workers poke their noses towards their managers and everyone else above them.  They’re curious to know as much about the upper management levels of their employer and how their company is doing.  These workers will poke their noses everywhere they can and find out as much as they can through observation.

We would like to know how well others’ perform their jobs, their work habits, and their lifestyles.  So what do we do?  We observe the behavior of others and listen hard to the things they say.  Also, there are some people that attract our attention more than others.  Maybe it’s because we really like (or dislike) their appearance, we hear things from or about them that excite us, or maybe it’s just a sense of personal chemistry.  If there’s someone that you’re extremely curious about, chances are you’ll find out things about them without poking your nose at them.

Although they would like to be on one of the top rungs of the ladder, getting there often requires a lot more skill and expertise than they believe they have.  Since this is true, instead of envying those above them, these coworkers look for ways to cut their superiors down, just to make themselves feel better.  This is why employees group together and go out to lunch or congregate after work, someplace off the employer’s premises.  Many will hit a bar after work just to have a few drinks as they are more inclined to share what is on their minds.

It all boils down to one thing: coworkers wish they could have as much authority and earn as much money as their superiors.  For those coworkers who feel they’re stuck in a hopeless rut, they’ll find any way possible to demean those above them.  Through gossiping, workers seek social approval from their friends.

Covering Up for Our Inadequacies

Everyone has an inadequacy of some kind.  Whether we want to admit it or not, there have been some things we have done or some things that happened to us that we are not too proud of.

Such examples are having a troubled childhood, getting a DWI, being fired, becoming a victim or rape or robbery, finding out our significant other is cheating on us, losing money on a scam, and the list goes on and on.  Maybe it was a big mistake we made resulting in a large loss or great damage, such as making a bad investment.  Negligent acts that were our fault or embarrassing mishaps betray us as well.

Likewise, it may be a personal weakness, a fault or flaw, or physical defect we have that causes us to feel insecurity.  It may be an attention deficit, behavioral disorder, depression, unmanageable anger, recklessness, or habitual negligence.  Possibly, one is unhappy about their appearance making them insecure.  One may feel inadequate become she doesn’t have many friends or has nothing to say during a social gathering.  Maybe, there was a situation where one was treated unfavorably because of a flaw he has.

How do we cope with our imperfections or misfortunes?  We like to find out about others who have experienced the same things or possess the same flaws we have.  Hearing about mistakes others have made makes us feel better.  This is because we realize we’re not the only one who has had this happen to.

A great number of people are humble.  Whatever happened to them, whether it was their fault or not, they are willing to share their stories.  Even if it is a quirk they have or something stupid they did, or an incorrect conclusion about something, they’ll openly talk about it.  For them, it is a great way to get what is bothering them off their chest.  Expressing these things also arouses the interest of those they speak to.

However, there are times when we never find out what others have experienced.  This is where gossiping comes in.  Gossipers have the natural tendency to phish for information by asking people questions or eavesdropping in on them.  In some instances, people discover flaws of others without even trying.  For instance, one may witness a celebrity or an authority figure doing something really stupid.  Once they capture some sensitive facts, they can’t wait to share them with their friends.  Not only is this a feeling of gainfulness, it is a search for approval from them.  Hence, gossiping serves as a way to gain a social boost.

Spreading Rumors

What is a rumor?  As defined in the Webster dictionary, rumor has more than one meaning:

  1. Talk or opinion that is disseminated to others with no discernible source.
  2. A statement or report made without a known authority to verify its truth.

Why do people start rumors?  I have read many stories about classmates or coworkers spreading rumors throughout the school or workplace about someone, especially untrue stories.  All these stories boil down to one thing: jealousy.

The main reason rumors are started is to raise some kind of excitement.  Maybe it’s because they can’t find something else better to do.  Most of them would like to see something in particular happen, usually something bad or negatively arousing (such as a business going under or somebody getting fired, etc) and they’ll try to get others stirred up at the same time.  They will in turn make up some type of story stating that it’s really happening.  At the same time, they love to observe peoples’ reactions to their story.

Let’s pick two fictitious characters: Jill and Sue.   Jill, who is struggling in algebra, realizes that Sue is a math whiz.  Jill then becomes envious of Sue and seeks out a way to cut Sue down.  As a result, Jill might make up a story about how Sue cheats on a math test in order to get a passing grade.  By spreading a rumor about Sue, Jill hopes she will boost herself image and raise herself into the social spotlight.

Rumors might be used to sabotage the goals of others.  Once someone finds out that another is attempting to make a positive change, like seeking a promotion or marrying a certain person, this person may pass a rumor against the goal seeker(s).  More likely, the one who starts the rumor wishes he could do the same thing, but has no prospects.  Out of jealousy, he may attempt to derail the other person’s goals.

 

One Day a Tailgater Will Learn His(Her) Lesson

English: No Tailgating sign at Apple Inc. office

English: No Tailgating sign at Apple Inc. office (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every Christmas Eve night, our family likes to take a late night drive just to see how others have decorated their homes and yards.  As we do, we drive down residential streets we wouldn’t normally travel, at a snail’s pace trying to take in scenes on both sides of the street at once.  Sometimes the brightest lights we see are the headlights of a car beaming in the rear view mirror.  This only makes us wonder why drivers tailgate.

I clearly remember an incident in the 1980s while riding home on a public bus speeding profusely down a busy residential street in North Minneapolis. I mean, the driver was going so ridiculously fast that the whole empty bus was shaking and rattling.   Ahead of him was a cab, of course being tailgated by the bus.  Once the cab driver reached the intersection, he came to a sudden stop forcing the bus driver to stop quickly as well.

The cab driver got out of his car and ran to the entrance of the bus, jumped on and the bus driver yelled to him, “Why did you have to stop so quickly in front of me?”  The cab driver responded in anger, “Why are you riding on my ass for?”  The bus driver stated, “I have a schedule to keep up with, that’s why?”  They looked like they both were about to duke it out right there on the spot.

Of course, I feel that the bus driver was totally out of line.  How stupid of him.  What if the cab passenger’s house was in the middle of the block?  What would happen then?  More likely the front end of the bus would end up in the back seat of the cab.  By adhering to his schedule, would this make a difference in keeping or losing his job?  Most likely not!

One day as you’re driving, you’re trying to find a place where you never stopped at before.  As you’re looking for a particular address, you see in your rear view mirror, a car tagging right behind you.  In fact, this driver is so close, you fear that if you slow down, he or she will rear-end you.  As you know, the person directly behind you is a tailgater.

What do you do now?  Some will pull onto the shoulder and let that person pass.  Others may drive faster in hopes of leaving this troublesome driver behind.

Because there is currently little, if any hard research on this subject, behavioral experts find it hard to state why drivers tailgate.  Leonard Evans, a GM Senior Researcher published a book entitled, Traffic Safety and the Driver.  This book is nicknamed “the bible of traffic research safety.”  In this publication he states:

“Drivers appear to do many things for their own benefit rather than a utility benefit.  It may be done as criminal behavior that’s indulged in for its own sake.”

Not only is tailgating dangerous, it has few, if any real advantages.  Perhaps tailgating is more of a habit than a practically intended strategy.  For some, tailgating gives the driver an extra sense of safety, especially since crashes rarely do occur because of it.  Maybe the driver feels that he/she can’t predict or prepare for situations that might lurk ahead in traffic.  Others may do it subconsciously, not even being aware of it.  By tailgating, some feel they can get to their destination faster.  Oftentimes, it’s a sign of stress.

Hello all you tailgaters out there!  Tailgating is not a safe practice.  It could lead to a crash and possibly an explosion, especially if the car ahead has a full tank of gas.  Likewise, passengers in the car ahead can be injured or killed, not to mention your front end being smashed up.  Is that worth getting to your destination faster?  Absolutely not!  By tailgating, you too can be classified as a murderer.

People That Talk to Themselves

Larry Wall - Perl

Larry Wall – Perl (Photo credit: shaond)

As absurd as it may sound, some people talk to themselves.  They habitually speak out loud with no intention of directing their words towards others.  Maybe it’s the satisfaction they get by letting their emotions out or the need for company.  Why they do it is a very interesting question.

Psychologists refer to this as “private speech.”  However, at times it is notorious.  It may be thought of as an indication that one is not mentally stable.  Some may consider such behavior as abnormal and socially unacceptable.

Children Talk to Themselves

Children who often talk to themselves are often noticed by teachers, parents, babysitters, and casual acquaintances.  Kids may spend more talking to themselves than they do to others.  Some will babble on before they fall asleep and often can be heard through a baby monitor.  As they talk, they summarize events that happened that day or reenact conversations.

Some adults conclude that children who talk to themselves are inattentive, disobedient, or even mentally unstable.  Such a habit helps children promote cognitive development.  Hence, they are able to practice language skills and reflect on their experiences.

By “thinking out loud” children are much more able to keep their impulses under control.  If they are tempted to do something they know is wrong, they’re likely to repeat verbal warnings given by their parents.  When faced with new or challenging situations, for example: jigsaw puzzles, they are more apt to private speech.

Avoiding Silence

Loneliness can be another reason people talk to themselves.  They speak out loud to raise the pleasurable sense they would acquire if another person was present.  Those who’ve encountered an embarrassing situation may talk to themselves about how the event could have been avoided or as a means of defense, responding in a way such as, “Let them think what they want.”  Others may do it as a means of creating a false presence of a loved one they have lost.  This form of behavior is different from hallucination as the speaker realizes the other person is not present.

According to Joseph Jordania, an evolutionary musicologist, many people talk to themselves to avoid silence.  He claims that humans’ ancestors were “social animals” who practiced contact calls as a means of keeping in contact with other members of groups they were part of.  If silence occurred, this was a warning signal that triggered fear or uncomfortable feelings.  Therefore, people talk to themselves as a way of filling in the gaps of long periods of silence.

Misfit Kids

As a kid, a friend of mine, I’ll call him “Larry”, would talk to himself nonstop, sometimes for an hour at a time.  He was a misfit kid and had few, if any friends.  Larry was legally blind and always had trouble learning new tasks and working with his hands.  Developing new skills was awkward and harder for him than it was for everyone else.  He was placed in a foster home at an early age and received a lot of criticism from others and was even thought of as being mentally retarded.  This caused him great humiliation, but after being told it so many times, he learned to believe it.

Nobody seemed to like Larry.  Perhaps it was because he was different and struggled to perform most everyday tasks, like opening a locked door with a key.  Those who’ve observed him couldn’t understand why it was difficult for him to do menial chores that they found easy.  Hence, people looked down on him, called him derogative names, and acted hostile towards him.

During recess he would aimlessly wander around the playground by himself while talking up a storm.  Nobody would approach him or allow him to join in any of their games.  Those that did only asked him questions like “Are you retarded?” or “How many fingers am I holding up?”  Although some seemed friendly towards him, he still had no friends.

This story serves as an example of why children talk to themselves.  Larry really wanted someone to talk to but couldn’t seem to find anyone.  He was always a loner and figured that since he didn’t fit in, he would just talk to himself as a means of externalizing his inner emotions.  By doing so, Larry could make even his deepest thoughts and observations known to himself.

Why Adults Do It

Almost all of us talk to ourselves.  We mutter a statement or two either under our breath or out loud.  Sometimes, it is because of a thought that just entered our mind that we feel strongly about-good or bad.  Other times, we may think of an event or some stimuli that makes us feel guilty about something, as objects or word associations.  For example, when I think of the phrase “new to me” or the like, I think about how reluctant I was to learn a new task on a previous job I had and how I attempted to lay the entire burden on my supervisor.  Shame on me!  If I heard any phrases that reminded me of this incident, I would have to mutter something out loud as a means of releasing the guilt.

Expressing a thought out loud is OK.  You’re letting yourself know that a great idea occurred to you and you ought to act on it.  Also, you may murmur a phrase in an attempt to release a negative inner emotion.  If you treated someone unfairly or avoided a troublesome situation you could have corrected, you will more likely feel guilty about it later.  Once you encounter stimuli that remind you of the event, you may then mumble or shout out something as a way to justify for your guilt.  Just hope that nobody catches you doing it.

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Gossiping Is Annoying and Immature

Speaking In Front of an Audience / Brave Rooney

Recession-Related Suicides

Technophobia – Fear of Technology