Wise answers to perplexing questions.
Dear Answer Lady
Is it ever okay to read someone else’s texts? – Just Wondering
The Answer Lady is intrigued by your question, primarily because she cannot determine whether you are the snooper or the – uh – snoop-ee. In a perfect world, the Answer Lady would say “absolutely not – everyone is entitled to privacy, yada-yada-yada.” Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, so the short answer is yes, depending upon the circumstances. The Answer Lady is NOT saying that we have carte blanche to peruse the phones of friends, casual acquaintances, and coworkers. If it’s a close family member, however, particularly a child or spouse, it is permissible only if you believe the person is in some sort of trouble or otherwise behaving inappropriately. If you suspect a teenager of drug abuse, or a spouse of gambling away the grocery money in Atlantic City, there will likely be evidence on their phone, and you are practically obliged to learn as much as you can in order to best deal with the situation. One can usually tell when someone is relying on their phone for nefarious deeds, as they rarely let it out of their sight, pounce on it the instant it rings, etc. We’re also assuming you are not walking around in a constant state of suspicion, in which case the problem rests with you. So yes, while we are all entitled to privacy, as the Answer Lady’s friend Dr Phil says: People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.
Dear Answer Lady
I was standing in line while Christmas shopping at one of the big-box stores up the road when the schmuck in front of me started yakking away on his cell phone like he was the only person in the world. I wanted to hit him over the head with the big-screen TV I was buying for my wife – what could I have said? – Aggravated Elf
Well, sir, consider this your punishment for patronizing big-box stores instead of the shops right here in Cape May. Had you been in line at a local shop, let’s say the Exit Zero store, you most likely would know the person in front of you, and could engage in pleasant conversation. The lesson here? Shop local! By the way, the Answer Lady is well aware that one cannot purchase a big-screen TV at the Exit Zero store, but is equally sure that your wife did not ask Santa for one, either.