Archive for the ‘Secrets’ Category

Service of Secrets That Burden

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Photo: rd.com

I’ve covered this topic before. I defended Nora Ephron in one post. Many of her friends had complained when she died “suddenly.” She’d kept her Leukemia diagnosis a secret. I wrote about General David Petraeus’ pillow talk where he was accused of sharing state secrets with his lover and about leakers in business and government.

Elizabeth Bernstein brought up a different perspective when she wrote “Should You Keep a Secret?” in The Wall Street Journal. One of her sisters, Rebecca, asked her to travel to be with her when she had a breast biopsy. She asked her to tell nobody else in the family, one that is chock full of doctors from surgeons to gynecologists. Her sister, an internist who trusted her surgeon, didn’t want the pressure of unsolicited advice.

Photo: theundercoverrecruiter.com

Bernstein asked: “How do you decide whether to keep someone’s secret when there are good reasons to tell?” More later about the repercussions of her decision to stay mum.

She offered other examples: You know the spouse of a person having an affair–do you snitch? What about a secret drinker in the family who needs help? Say you learn that a close friend, who died, had led a double life? “You might want to disclose someone’s secret if it will help him or her in the long run. Or if someone else is being hurt or has a right to know the information.”

According to studies to be published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology “we often feel closer to a loved one when we know a secret of theirs, but this information can also be a burden. The studies show that the closer a person is to a friend or loved one whose secret they know, the more he or she is likely to think about the secret. And the more friends the two people have in common, the more likely one person is to keep another’s secret.”

Photo: popsugar.com

Bernstein quoted the lead researcher, Michael Slepian, PhD, Columbia Business School: “Just having to think about someone else’s secret makes it harmful to our wellbeing.” In an earlier study Dr. Slepian reported that when people think about a secret, everything seems to be more difficult: “They estimate hills to be steeper and distances to be farther” than people not so burdened.

So what happened to Bernstein? She was still at her sister’s house when her mother called. Mom knew—her sister had told her—and “was angry with me for preventing the rest of the family from supporting Rebecca.” The gynecologist was “hurt that I didn’t seem to value her expertise. Too late, I realized that in keeping Rebecca’s secret, I might have betrayed others. It took me almost a week to get back into everyone’s good graces. By then, we’d learned that the biopsy, thankfully, was negative.”

Had you been Bernstein, would you have told the rest of the family? Do you think anyone has “the right” to personal information and someone’s secret and that you should be the person to share it? Have you felt burdened and sluggish when harboring a dear one’s secret? Have you been in the “no good deed goes unpunished” position, like Bernstein, on the bad end of the stick when others learn you knew but didn’t share? Are there some personal secrets you should never share under any circumstance?

Photo: kbic.com

Service of Leaks

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Photo: tohowater.com

The idea for this post came to me the day after the Meghan/Prince Harry wedding. I love seeing the fashions worn at high profile events and was looking for photos of the evening party that Prince Charles threw for 250 of the bride and groom’s nearest and dearest. Guess what? Not one photo had leaked. That’s how the couple wanted it.

Photo: gossipcop.com

Granted a party doesn’t have the gravitas of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation yet they share being information airtight: There’s not been the tiniest drop of disclosure from Mueller’s team. I eventually read online about the festivities at Prince Charles’ party for his son and daughter-in-law, but saw no photos.

Robert Mueller. Photo: twitter.com

So what’s with the White House and current administration? Some leaks are deliberate, I’ve heard, and rumors have it that others even come from the top, based on a history of such behavior when DT was a citizen. The queasier kind of information that nobody would want outsiders to hear is blabbed by someone–even more than one person perhaps.

In addition to being a passport to a hasty firing if caught, I don’t get why someone so irritated that they are willing to spill the beans sticks around any organization. Pundits have conjectured that this is the only way to get the attention of the president. I hope that’s not true.

There’s a difference between a leaker and whistleblower, the latter being extraordinarily brave, willing to jeopardize a career to save others. If you so dislike where you work, and you agree that whistle blowing is instant career suicide, then get out, and keep quiet at least until you do.

Have you had to stop leakers in an organization? How is it done? Are leakers held in high regard or does the press that takes advantage of the juicy information consider them to be rats? Regarding the White House soggy with leaks, why add to and be part of the rapid deterioration of the decorum of a once venerable office and symbol?

Photo: delawareonline.com

Service of Hidden Stories: What Do You Know About Support Workers Where You Work and Live? What Do They Know About You?

Monday, June 20th, 2016

What do you know

I hadn’t seen the young woman who cleans the ladies’ room at the office for so long I didn’t think she worked here anymore. But I saw her last week and asked how her classes were coming along. She told me that she got all A’s this semester in such college courses as biology and chemistry. English is not her native tongue. I’m in awe.

Some office building front desk staffers can hardly grunt a good evening in return or look up from their newspapers as late-leaving tenants pass them. Others are more like one night guard who has much to discuss if you give him a chance. Recently he was weighing options his kids had suggested for his father’s day gift. A former night doorman now porter told me how much he loved his cats—more than any girlfriend past or present—describing his menagerie with love and in great detail. His pals call him “the cat man.” This morning he worried about his youngest who, he hopes, suffers only from a hairball.

Those we don’t think are listening or observing know plenty about us. The morning doorman at our apartment has worked there for 30+ years. He told me that he remembers the birthdates of some of the tenants—there are hundreds–and that he also knows which ones don’t want to be reminded.

newspaper on floorThe elderly fellow on our floor whose door is almost directly opposite ours isn’t friendly so I didn’t knock one noon when I dashed home for something and his morning newspaper was still on the carpet outside. I mentioned the unusual behavior to the door person on my way out—a porter subbing for the doorman on his break. The next morning the doorman volunteered that the neighbor was fine, that he checked on him before resuming his door duties and that this neighbor had simply forgotten to get the paper. He thanked me for speaking up and said that over the years he’d rescued a few tenants who had fallen over a weekend and had spent many hours on the floor.

arroganceIn the day there were articles about how to become successful that warned readers not to bother with “the little people,” a Leona Helmsley reference. They weren’t worded this way—you were advised only to deal with people who could enhance your career. Has this changed?

Do you chat with the people who work around you or do you ignore them? Have any of them surprised you with their hobbies, accomplishments and lives beyond their day jobs? Do you think they know anything about you?

who is listening

Service of Keeping Secrets

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Top secret 2

“Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead,” –Benjamin Franklin

“To keep your secret is wisdom; but to expect others to keep it is folly,”—Samuel Johnson—both on quoteland.com

Clearly General David Petraeus wasn’t speaking to a dead person if he, in fact, whispered classified information along with sweet nothings to his then paramour and biographer Paula Broadwell. As a high-profile person it surely was folly if he did do it.

Telephone 1Jack Shafer took a balanced view of the matter in “In Defense of David Petraeus,” in politico.com. He posited whether “the case should have been brought in the first place,” observing that government officials deliberately leak information “sometimes to float a policy balloon, sometimes to undermine their bureaucratic opponents, sometimes by mistake, and sometimes (I’m only guessing here) to placate the mistress who is writing an adulatory biography.”

Shafer reports that 1.4+ million are cleared for top secrets and that they create “tens of millions of new classified documents each year.” He quoted the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s observation that with so much at top secret level it slows information between policy makers creating an unsafe, rather than a safe, situation. Shafer wrote: “If neither justice nor national security are being served by pressuring the general, prosecutors should back off.”

top secret 3The reporter doesn’t suggest that Petraeus should go Scott free if he did this as it sets a bad example for lower level people who handle security matters. Shafer asks: “Did we experience a genuine security lapse in the Petraeus case, or are we merely relearning the lesson that Moynihan taught, that the bureaucracy, determined to cover its ass in advance, classifies way too much material?”

We don’t yet know, and Shafer points to two hints that reflect the benign nature of the info Broadwell received. According to the Washington Post, “aides and military officials” passed along the schedules and PowerPoint presentations in question to Broadwell. Quoting Bloomberg View, Patraeus has been “casually advising the White House on Iraq” and his security clearance still holds. Shafer concludes: “Does the right hand of the government know what the left is doing?”

Until the top security definitions are redefined, is it up to anyone to determine that one bit of information is more or less secret after the fact or are rules rules? Is this accusation a tempest in a teapot fueled by a political enemy of Patraeus or the administration? Do you keep it simple and never share sensitive work information with a soul or do you make exceptions under certain circumstances?

know the rules

Service of Secrets

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

top-secret1

I can’t get out of my mind Frank Rich’s New York Magazine article, “Nora’s Secret,” about Nora Ephron, who died of Leukemia, but told almost nobody that she had it.

"When Harry Met Sally"

"When Harry Met Sally"

According to Rich her friends-he considered himself top of the list–couldn’t understand how an open book such as Ephron, who so freely wrote about her experiences and feelings in her manuscripts and movies, would keep this information to herself. They were shocked when she died both because she seemed so well and they didn’t realize that she was so sick.

I know people who seem to reveal everything under the sun but keep really important information to themselves and I fully understand and empathize with Ephron. Sometimes you need all your strength to put one foot in front of the other and you must harvest your spreadselfthinenergy. You can spread yourself too thin by having to respond to countless queries which, in Ephron’s case would have been about her health. Other topics people care to keep close could be about divorce, bankruptcy, job loss of a spouse, other disaster or maybe something positive such as a fragile, fledgling love relationship.

As a famous person, there would have been countless articles about Ephron’s illness, distracting her from what she wanted to do which was continue to live and work as she always had.

Being private doesn’t mean being secretive and it also doesn’t indicate a person thinks less of another as a friend. Is all a person’s business everyone else’s? If you don’t share, are you less of a friend? I don’t even see what Ephron did as keeping a secret, do you?

private-person

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