Meddling vs Interest: Are you “kepo”?

A: What is the difference between meddling and interest?
*B keeps asking questions*
A: Why do you keep asking? It’s annoying.
B: If that’s how you feel, then it’s meddling. From my perspective, stemming from concern, it’s interest.
(Jugglers, eps 4, conversation between Nam Chi Won and Hwang Bo Yool)

Me at Grand Canyon. Winter Trip. December 2015.

This makes me think about “kepo”. When I searched it in English, it stands for “knowing every particular object”. In my country, Indonesia, however, it is an adjective that means “being curious” (often in annoying ways). When someone keeps asking you questions as if s/he had to know everything, then s/he is kepo. But kepo can be subjective, like, some people might be annoyed, and some others might be okay with it.

And of course it makes me think about the phenomenon in my country, Indonesia. People really love asking us questions, which sometimes we consider too private. They ask something like “When will you graduate?”, “When are you getting married?”, “When are you going to have a child?”, “Have you got a job?”, “Did you get the scholarship?”, etc. Sometimes it does feel annoying, and so it kinda feels like meddling. But then I try to see this from another perspective. Personally I myself belong to the types who love asking such questions. Like, I want to know if my friend has got a job or not, so if s/he hasn’t, who knows I can help him/her find one. I’m curious whether my friend has applied for or got the scholarship s/he wanted so I know what I can do to help or if I can give an advice. But often times I hold back and avoid asking such questions no matter how much I want to know because I’m afraid they’ll find it annoying, or if they’ll feel uncomfortable with the question, etc. Like, maybe they’ve tried hard to get a job but haven’t and when asked whether they’ve got a job or not they’d feel hurt because it reminds them of their unfruitful efforts, and so forth. I don’t know. I think somehow the society is getting too complicated. We try (too) hard not to offend people but at the same time some people seem to be getting more sensitive if not oversensitive. From my perspective, when I ask such questions, of course that stems from concern; i.e. because I care. Otherwise, I won’t ask. But again, I don’t mean to make people feel hurt or annoyed. Thus, often, I have to apologize first before asking or telling them it is okay not to answer if it causes them discomfort so that they don’t misunderstand. It’s like, “Excuse me, I’m sorry, I’d love to ask you a question, but you don’t have to answer if you don’t feel like it,” etc. But again, it kinda shows some distance and so it feels a bit dilemmatic. I don’t know, maybe I’m just overthinking this. Maybe I take this too personally.

Me at coastal pacific. California trip. December 2015. How I miss this view!

Anyway, personally for me, I’m ok with people asking me questions. That’s because I will always have the choice whether to answer or not, to tell them I don’t want to answer it, and so forth. Well, as long as they don’t insist I give different answers when I have given them one. I understand if people ask if I’ve got a boyfriend or not, when I’ll be getting married, when I will travel next, etc. I don’t mind answering such questions. Truth is, I wonder about the answer myself. So yes, I try to understand and see it from the perspective of concern; i.e. they ask because they are worried or they care. When people stop asking me questions, however, sometimes I wonder if they care at all. But of course different people face this differently. Some people might prefer not getting such questions at all and they’ll still believe that people actually care about them. Some others might prefer getting such questions because it makes them feel worthy enough to be cared about. But again, it depends on various factors. The questions, the closeness and the familiarity, the length/time of knowing each other, etc. It all depends. Hence, whether it’s interest or meddling, only you can decide. If you’re really concerned, then you can ask and apologize. If you actually don’t care, then don’t ask such questions out of “lip-service”. I know it won’t be easy and will remain complicated because what we think as interest might be considered meddling by others, and likewise.

So, what about you? Are you kepo? Do you love asking questions? Do you love getting such questions? Now I’m showing you my kepo-ness 😀

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