I think the word "snooping" is a pejorative term that denotes a judgmental feeling on behalf of the speaker. Questions that one would prefer to avoid having to answer are "snooping." One may label one's own efforts as "snooping" when feeling fearful or guilty. However, investigative efforts about which one feels good, are labeled in more complimentary terms such as "fact-finding" or "sleuthing." Likewise, when a person asks welcome questions, this may be called "showing interest" or "caring."
For example, when I was a child, my mother called my attempts to locate the Christmas presents hidden in the house, "snooping." However, when I persisted in finding an answer to something of which she approved, that was "doing good research." I've heard it said, "curiosity killed the cat." I think this is a just a rather threatening way of telling someone that they are "snooping!"
Thankfully, there are those who support and appreciate an Inquiring Mind! Apparently, Albert Einstein adjured us to "Never stop questioning!"
At one time in my life, I sought with relative abandon answers and solutions for questions about which I was curious. If someone told me I was "snooping," I rarely let that bother me. I figured it was my right to seek and theirs to hide, if they so chose. With time though, I notice that I have developed some drag on my drive to seek and find. I suppose there are many factors in that. Some of it is that I have found a great deal of what I want and therefore have less to seek. Another is possibly that I am more aware now, and that when I seek and find answers, the impact on my own life and that of others may be farther reaching than I anticipated. I often question myself now before I question others, seeking to know WHY I want an answer, investigating the intentions of my investigation. I feel a certain pressure to determine that my need for an answer is greater than any inconvenience it may generate. I guess it boils down to having developed a certain fear of "shaking" the status quo and a desire to only do so for constructive reasons.
I also have discovered that there are ways to make snooping seem like a caring investigation. For example, when asking questions, it may forestall negative reaction by asking permission to ask questions. Something like, "I'd like to ask you some questions about your sex life. Would that be all right?" seems to help a great deal. Making an effort to say, in some way, "I care about your feelings, and I only want answers if you feel comfortable giving them" seems to transform what could easily be seen as "snooping" into an intimate and educational interaction. I think it is a valuable parenting skill to learn how to show interest rather than "snoop."
British Colombia, Canada
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