Discretion

Last week, I found out that someone had begun to call their relatives “BBC” and “CNN” because they were bound to hear the latest gossip from them - imagine the reaction of the “newscasters”, should they find out about their ‘christening’! It’s an unfortunately common experience to have a “no-filter” sibling or relative reveal the most embarrassing moment of your life to an utter stranger, or at least, someone you would have preferred to remain in the dark about the skeletons hiding in your closet. Here in Singapore, we’ve even coined a term for it:

kaypoh [ˈkɛ.po] (noun) Somebody who pries into the business of others; a busybody. Also known as: that creepy person on the bus who breathes over your shoulder trying to read your personal messages while you’re on the phone. (Yikes!)

So, are you a kaypoh? Here’s some tell-tale symptoms of kaypoh-ness:

  1. A kaypoh can neither keep nor resist a secret. When you tell a kaypoh your secrets, they have a little hole in their chin that leaks your secret out almost as soon as you are out of their sight. I can’t believe it... she used to skip Sunday Mass all the time! Or if they don’t have a secret to keep, but whiff the scent of something mysterious in the air that they are not privy to, they won’t stop at the most inopportune question to hunt out that delicious piece of information. Hey, so is it true that Amy and Amelia fought over their school project and are no longer best friends...?! Which leads to our next telltale sign...
  2. A kaypoh has no qualms invading others’ privacy. Left your spiritual notebook in the pews at church? Uh oh... better pray that when you return, you won’t find a kaypoh buried nose-deep in its pages. Recently added a friend into your Facebook or Instagram account? Better check what you post, because if he or she is a kaypoh, they may just take the opportunity to find out what kind of posts you liked to write five years ago, and show others that photograph of your “snoring away with a mouth wide open” smile. And that’s probably because...
  3. A kaypoh is unaware of (or worse still, doesn’t care) how their behaviour makes others uncomfortable. Went to the shopping centre to buy some personal products? A kaypoh behind you in the line will be ogling your shopping cart and judging your taste in food, drinks and music. Ever had a defect in your physical appearance that you couldn’t fix - a bad hair day or outbreak? A kaypoh opposite you in the bus wouldn’t be able to stop staring. Having a conversation with your friend about your personal problems? You might suddenly hear the unexpected (and unwanted) voice of a kaypoh chiming in about how they used to face the same thing too. Actually, it’s not only about how they behave towards you, but how they conduct themselves in general...
  4. Kaypohs don’t mind calling attention to themselves. (Technically, this is less of ‘kaypohness’ and more of indiscretion - but both have similar roots.) Here, we can think about things like our posture and dressing. Ever seen little children who have not yet been educated on how to maintain a modest comportment? Well, one can imagine that when they grow up, they may show more than what’s necessary. Or if not, they may enjoy wearing clothes that have large wordings in unnecessary places or that glow brighter than a traffic light.
  5. Indiscreet people don’t take the effort to consider others’ needs before theirs. Opening your house for a meal? Better make sure you have more dessert than you were planning for, because if it’s your indiscreet friend’s favourite ice cream brand, he or she is not going to mind taking five cones and leaving insufficient for the rest of your friends. Letting your friend sleepover at your house? Better clean up the bathroom when they’re done showering, if they don’t have the discretion to do so themselves. 

In a nutshell... kaypohs have no concept of ‘mortifying one’s curiosity’ in their dictionary, and indiscreet people could grow in spiritual refinement and prudence. If you’ve found yourself in one of these categories, you might be consoled to know that it’s a really common occurrence, given the fact that we live in an age of social media where we can air the happenings of our lives and our opinions on all kinds of issues - from the elections, to the irritating person in front of us in the train, to last Saturday’s breakfast... twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Naturally, without the practice of self-discipline and prudence, such a situation tends to breed some rather undesirable consequences, such as the oversharing of personal information or the lack of mortification of our curiosity.

What can help to remedy such a situation, if we do find ourselves inadvertently falling into indiscretion? Read the next article on prudence to find out!


Winnie bio

Hi! I’m Winnie. I'm a candidate with the Servant Sisters, which means one day - God willing - I'll be able to introduce myself as "Sr. Winnie," or better yet, St. Winnie! I'm a firm believer that not only do we reach Jesus through Mother Mary, but that Jesus Himself desires to lead us to Mary, because falling in love with the Eucharist was the start of a journey that ended up in my discovery of (or should I say, my being discovered by) the Home of our Blessed Mother. So have no fear in giving yourself totally to Her! I currently live on the tiny city-state-island of Singapore. It's a 55 year-old nation still awaiting its first (canonized) saint - pray hard for us!!