Musings: To Snoop Through Our Partner’s Texts Or Not To Snoop…
I was never a snooper per se, I think I once checked an ex’s phone once or twice. Okay maybe thrice. As one might expect, I never felt good afterwards—nor did I feel gratified or satiated. I’ve always mulled over its ethicality and it recently(plus a friend’s snooping addiction) hit me that I may have been missing the point entirely. Because the point isn’t what you find when you snoop; the point is that you were driven to snoop in the first place.
Snooping always felt like searching in dark corners for evidence, probably because that’s essentially what it is. But, evidence of what? And to what purpose? Perhaps I was hoping to find evidence of disloyalty. And perhaps I was, ultimately, looking for a concrete excuse to end the relationship. Either way, the urge to snoop is often indicative of a languishing relationship.
Discovering incriminating texts or phone calls in a partner’s phones always, in my mind, justified the snooping; it made snooping seem okay, warranted. At the very least, my actions felt much more justified compared to the times I didn’t find anything of concern. But the truth is, what we’re ultimately looking for when we snoop will not be found through snooping; more often than not, what we’re looking for is right under our nose.
If I had taken the time to look at the conspicuous evidence right in front of me—that I am obviously unhappy in my relationship—there would be no need to snoop. Because what’s standing right in front of us will always provide us with more answers than any text could. Which brings up another crucial point: the intrinsic unreliability of text messages.
Even if the thing we’re looking for when we snoop isn’t standing right in front of us, it still won’t be found in text messages because texts are steeped in inaccuracy. Shakespeare’s Othello begins in “media res,” that is, in the middle of things. Immediately, we are dropped into the middle of a conversation between Roderigo and Iago without context. And I’ve always considered this a great analogy for texting. Throughout the play, as this technique is repeated, the effect becomes practically indistinguishable from the feeling of snooping. In both cases, we are given snippets of information that, together, can be easily misconstrued. In effect, our interpretation is fundamentally unreliable, as we are not given any context. And so to snoop through our partner’s texts with the intention of finding something incriminating is an inherently flawed approach, since what we find in texts will never be an accurate representation of reality.
And snooping is glaring evidence that we’re in an unconscious relationship. Because it means choosing not to address, human-to-human, person-to-person, what’s right in front of us. It’s choosing to, instead, look in places that are not only isolating, but also intrinsically fraudulent. Perhaps we do this to avoid coming face-to-face with our reality—that is, the dismal relationship we’re in. But that’s no way to live.
It’s really no way to live.
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