When does voyeurism become spying, and vice versa? When does healthy interest, prompted by genuine concern, become either one?
In his review of the 2000 film The Contender, Roger Ebert says that Gary Oldman's character is "the kind of man who, in high school, would rather know who was sleeping with the cheerleaders than sleep with one himself". That line's stuck with me for a long while, because I've often wondered just where on that scale I'd fall. I know I have an appetite for gossip and information that's more than a little unseemly--and if the information itself is more than a little unseemly, all the better. Still, recognition of a problem is only the first step toward solving it; just because I feel oogy about collecting factoids about people doesn't mean I'll stop.
I'm not 100% sure what any of this means, or why I'm bringing it up here. Were I capable of high-mindedness, I'd say it was to point out that when friends are looking for information, they're maybe doing it so as to get a better grip on the goings-on around them, and thereby be better friends...even if they enjoy the bonus of having secret knowledge.