Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Have you ever heard of crytoscopophilia?  I never had, but I was reading the book All Wound Up by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee the other day.  The book is a series of essays, and one is entitled Crytoscopophilia  She defines the words as, "the urge to look in people's windows as you pass..."

Wow.  I have never heard of the word, but I certainly know the urge.  It's fun to walk down the street and glance in windows.  Please don't be confused -- this is not stalking.  It's something you do as you pass -- not as you stand in the yard and peek in the window.  It creates glimpses -- fleeting images, really -- of life inside the home.  Almost always the room looks neater than any room in my house.

We make harmless inferences about what we see.  If there is a huge television, we assume they spend a lot of time glued to the set.  If the people are fighting, then we make assumptions about what life is like in the home.  If there is a cat in the window, we label them "cat people."  If he and she are cleaning the room, I wonder if they love cleaning so much that they might like to come over to my house and vacuum my carpet.

Do we do that when we look at people?  Do we make assumptions that we know what is going on in their lives by just glancing at them?  Do we presume we are always right?

What would happen if someone glanced at my life?  What wrong conclusions would they draw?  What about your life?

Could the knowledge of how wrong our conclusions can be -- how wrong other people's conclusions about us can be -- lead us to be less judgmental?



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