Excerpted from Too Much Information?, by Peggy Noonan, published May 5, 2005, by Wall Street Journal:
I was at a wedding, standing just off the dance floor, when a pleasant young man in his 20s approached, introduced himself and asked where I’d had my hair done. I shook his offered hand and began to answer, but before I could he said, “I’m gay, by the way.”
I nodded as if this were my business, but thought: I wonder why a total stranger thinks I want to know what he wishes to do with his genitals? What an odd way to say hello.
We live in a time in which people routinely violate their own privacy.
I don’t think the young man lacked a sense of privacy. I suspect if I’d said, “Tell me your annual salary,” he would have bridled. That’s personal.
Maybe he wanted me to approve (“That’s wonderful!”) or disapprove (“Unclean!”). Maybe he felt compelled to announce his orientation because homosexuals are so often told that not to declare is to be closeted, and to be closeted is shameful. Maybe he was doing what he thinks he must to do to show integrity.
Whatever his thinking, it has occurred to me that in the old, clucking, busybody America it was not unusual to meet people who needed to be told, “That’s none of your business.”
But in the new and infinitely stranger America there are a lot of people who need to be told, “Buddy, that’s none of my business.”
Or, as people began saying about five years ago, “Too much information!”
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