Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: Promise on January 06, 2013, 11:11:50 PM

Title: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Promise on January 06, 2013, 11:11:50 PM
My husband was asked by Friend A yesterday to help Friend B move a very large older model large screen tv into B's house. This tv is at least 54 inches and is attached to a large base. It was the kind people wanted 10-15 years ago before flat screens. He met a couple of other friends over at the house to move it in. While inside he noted that the family B were serious hoarders - the kind you see on tv. They had 4 or 5 other tvs in the house too.

When DH came home and told about this, I asked him how this tv came to the home since they already had so many. He said Friend A was at a work site doing construction and that homeowner wanted to get rid of this tv (free) and wondered if he knew anyone who might need one. Friend A immediately thought of Friend B (he takes everything) and took it to give to B.

Here's my question. If you know that a person struggles with an addiction (whether it be hoarding, eating, drinking, gambling, etc.) is it ethical to contribute free items that will enable that addiction further? My example is that if I knew that B struggled with diabetes/obesity, I would not randomly bring them 5 large pizzas just because they were free. Since I know it would lead to further decrease their health, I would decline the offer if I wouldn't eat them, rather than take them to someone who struggles with overeating unhealthy food. My husband and I went back and forth about this. I think it's wrong to knowlingly support someone's addiction by contributing to it while he separates out hoarding from other addictions and doesn't think it's a big deal to bring more stuff over that they don't need.

What are your thoughts?
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on January 06, 2013, 11:39:43 PM
Is it endangering their health or the health of anyone else?

If not, I wouldn't I interfere unless it becomes a problem.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Yvaine on January 06, 2013, 11:41:49 PM
Does Friend A even know how bad it is? Or did he just think Friend B "collects old TVs"?
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: katycoo on January 06, 2013, 11:45:06 PM
Probably it is unethical, but since it did not directly involve either you or your DH, its also none of your business.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: DottyG on January 06, 2013, 11:48:34 PM
I think it's none of anyone else's business, and you need to stay out of it.

Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Ceallach on January 06, 2013, 11:52:14 PM
Probably it is unethical, but since it did not directly involve either you or your DH, its also none of your business.

I think it's none of anyone else's business, and you need to stay out of it.



Right, but the OP isn't suggesting that she will interfere in any way in this particular situation - she's just using this as an interesting example and asking what we think we would do if we were "Friend A" or in a similar scenario.     

OP, I tend to agree with you.  It doesn't seem sensible to add to somebody's "problem".   Obviously from an etiquette perspective interfering is also rude e.g. it would be rude for a 3rd party to say "You can't accept a free TV! You have too much stuff hoarded!" or to try to intervene in an offer to prevent it happening.   But likewise going out of your way to add to the problem yourself seems thoughtless.    In this case Friend A went out of his way to get the TV for Friend B - he could just have declined the offer instead of arranging for Friend B to take it and arranging people to help move it!    Having said that, in this case it's possible that the TVs are used for parts, perhaps friend B is an amateur electronics person or similar. The mere presence of multiple TVs does not necessarily mean they're hoarding them.   I would give Friend A the benefit of the doubt and assume he knows something you do not, and that the TV was a welcome and wanted offer.   But that's in this case, in general I do agree with you in principle.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: DottyG on January 06, 2013, 11:56:54 PM
Quote
asking what we think we would do if we were "Friend A" or in a similar scenario.

And I answered. It's none of anyone else's concern and everyone (OP and everyone else) should mind their own business.

Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Ceallach on January 07, 2013, 12:00:19 AM
Quote
asking what we think we would do if we were "Friend A" or in a similar scenario.

And I answered. It's none of anyone else's concern and everyone (OP and everyone else) should mind their own business.

Fair enough then, I thought you were chastising the OP to "stay out of it" which I felt was unnecessary as she has not indicated any intention whatsoever to get involved in this situation.   :)

So just to clarify - are you saying that if you were offered a free TV and you knew your hoarder friend would love to have it and hoard it, you'd "stay out of it" by not offering the TV to them (e.g. not adding to the problem)  OR would you "stay out of it" by not making any judgments as to whether it was right/wrong for them to have the TV and therefore offer it anyway?    I ask because both interpretations could be considered to be non-judgmental and not getting involved in the hoarding aspect.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: DottyG on January 07, 2013, 12:03:02 AM
I'm a little confused by the difference (my brain isn't, necessarily, completely clear right now! I'm tired!)

Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Iris on January 07, 2013, 12:05:45 AM
Quote
asking what we think we would do if we were "Friend A" or in a similar scenario.

And I answered. It's none of anyone else's concern and everyone (OP and everyone else) should mind their own business.

Fair enough then, I thought you were chastising the OP to "stay out of it" which I felt was unnecessary as she has not indicated any intention whatsoever to get involved in this situation.   :)

So just to clarify - are you saying that if you were offered a free TV and you knew your hoarder friend would love to have it and hoard it, you'd "stay out of it" by not offering the TV to them (e.g. not adding to the problem)  OR would you "stay out of it" by not making any judgments as to whether it was right/wrong for them to have the TV and therefore offer it anyway?    I ask because both interpretations could be considered to be non-judgmental and not getting involved in the hoarding aspect.

Yes, I'm wondering too. My mother has hoarding tendencies (which she is having some good success recovering from, thankfully). If someone said to me "Hey, I'm getting rid of this old wardrobe, do you know anyone who wants it?" ... well, I DO know someone who would want it, my mother. However I almost certainly wouldn't mention that because it would just be adding to her problem. If she gets a new wardrobe all by herself, fine. I'm not going to lecture her about it. But I'm also not going to enable her by actively sending stuff her way.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Ceallach on January 07, 2013, 12:07:10 AM
I'm a little confused by the difference (my brain isn't, necessarily, completely clear right now! I'm tired!)

Lol I understand!    I guess what's confusing is that the OP isn't really asking what we'd do in her position (as the 3rd party) she's asking what we'd do in the position of Friend A so it's purely hypothetical.   The position of Friend A is more complicated because they have to make the decision of "Do I offer this item to my Friend despite knowing they have an issue with hoarding?"    

I agree with you that any 3rd party should definitely stay out of it though.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: MariaE on January 07, 2013, 01:13:29 AM
Definitely unethical. I wouldn't bring a recovering alcoholic (or a practicing one, for that matter!) a bottle of wine, just because I got some for free. And in terms of 'enabling' I don't see this as being any different.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: cicero on January 07, 2013, 02:23:15 AM
Well, *I* wouldn't - i see this an enabling.

But it's possible that friend A doesn't realize that friend B has a *real* problem. It's like if i have a friend who is an alcoholic, but not everyone realizes this, and people may just see him as "a guy who likes to party" rather than "a guy who has a serious addiction".

If i was in Friend A's shoes, and a homeowner would have asked me, i would have said that I don't know anyone - there is no way that I would have added to Friend B's problems

Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Sharnita on January 07, 2013, 05:15:07 AM
I agree that not evrybody might see it the way OP does, or thy might not see the addition of the tv the way OP does.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Margo on January 07, 2013, 06:00:05 AM
I don't think that friend A was wrong - he was asked if he knew anyone who would like the TV, and he did. He knew that Friend B would like it. I think that if Friend A *knew* that Friend B had a serious problem with hoarding then it would be better not to actively support this, but 'hoarder' isn't necessarily the first thing which would spring to mind, unless Friend A already has experience of hoarders - he might just think of B as someone who likes tinkering with electronics.

I think that if A knew that B has or may have a problem, it would be better not to mention him at all, and just say 'no' to the question about whether you know someone who might like the TV. However, I don't think his actions were unethical unless he knew specifically that B had a definite problem (i.e. if he knows B's family well enough to know that B has sought help or is getting treatment, or if he knows that the house has rooms which are literally too full to enter)

Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: AuntyEm on January 07, 2013, 06:19:17 AM
I think that offering unwanted items to someone you know has a problem with hoarding is unethical.  In this case it solved the problem of getting rid of a big, bulky tv at the expense of someone who already has a serious problem with collecting things. 
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Sharnita on January 07, 2013, 06:31:59 AM
But does person A agree that these friends have a serious problem? I might think you hsve a drinking problem. That doesn't mean others should/will agree.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: BarensMom on January 07, 2013, 07:00:18 AM
But does person A agree that these friends have a serious problem? I might think you hsve a drinking problem. That doesn't mean others should/will agree.

I don't think that OP means whether Person A should or shouldn't have brought the TV to Person B.  It's more of what would she do if she were in Person A's shoes and knew for a fact that Person B was a hoarder.

I know people like Person B who will take everything that's offered and more (if you let them).  Their houses and garages are packed with other people's old stuff.  I agree with the OP - I will not enable hoarders any more than I would a drug user or an alcoholic.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 07, 2013, 08:54:43 AM
If I believed a person had a problem with hoarding, I would not go out if my way to provide them with more items.  In the scenario, friend A not only suggested friend B take the item friend A also helped arrange more people to assist with the move. 

If I have a friend struggling with compulsive shopping ( whether they are admitting to the problem or not)  I'm not going to call them up and suggest we go to the year end clearance sale. 

I know many will say it is not my place to diagnose a problem, but we are all aware that many people with problems are the last to recognize they have an issue that needs to be addressed.  I may not be able to suggest they get help, but I don't have to enable a behavior I see as harmfull. 
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Amara on January 07, 2013, 12:26:51 PM
OP, your DH was very nice to help with the moving. My thought is that if you know someone has a hoarding (overeating/drinking) problem it is better to not contribute to it. But the OP's husband did not. If anyone should have "kept his nose out of it" was was A, assuming A knows that B has a hoarding problem. (And I assume that A does know this since he responded immediately.)
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: katycoo on January 07, 2013, 04:31:01 PM
Probably it is unethical, but since it did not directly involve either you or your DH, its also none of your business.

I think it's none of anyone else's business, and you need to stay out of it.



Right, but the OP isn't suggesting that she will interfere in any way in this particular situation - she's just using this as an interesting example and asking what we think we would do if we were "Friend A" or in a similar scenario.     

OK.  If I was friend A, I wouldn't volunteer to friend B that I knew of a TV going free unless I knew that they actually needed a new TV (ie. theirs was broken).  If they somehow found out and asked for it, I would not try to talk them out of it.  But I would probably not be the middle man either and would rather connect the 2 parties to work it out.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 07, 2013, 04:46:38 PM
If I believed a person had a problem with hoarding, I would not go out if my way to provide them with more items.  In the scenario, friend A not only suggested friend B take the item friend A also helped arrange more people to assist with the move. 

If I have a friend struggling with compulsive shopping ( whether they are admitting to the problem or not)  I'm not going to call them up and suggest we go to the year end clearance sale. 

I know many will say it is not my place to diagnose a problem, but we are all aware that many people with problems are the last to recognize they have an issue that needs to be addressed.  I may not be able to suggest they get help, but I don't have to enable a behavior I see as harmfull.

I agree with this. I think there is definitely some judgment that comes into it, which may not sound very nice or fair if it was actually articulated; but as long as you (general) keep that judgment to yourself, I think it's not rude to make it. Example: I have a friend who struggles with money problems and has told me about it many times. If we're going out to lunch (each paying their own way), I suggest cheaper places that we both like, as opposed to expensive places that we both like. She's an adult and can make her own choices about her money and where to spend it; but I personally don't want to be the one who "pressured" her to spend more, or "forced" her to counter my expensive suggestion with a cheaper one and thus "embarrass" herself. (The quotes represent an extreme way of looking at the situation, granted.)

Another example: My dad has hoarder tendencies (thankfully countered by my mom). I've cut the number of gifts I give him way, way down over the years, because each thing is just something else to add to his pile of stuff. Around the holidays each year my mom and I have the same discussion--"Should I get this for your dad?" "I dunno... Do you think he'll use it, or will it end up on the pile?" He's not really into gifts anyway and doesn't seem to mind, which is good, but sometimes I feel a bit guilty about it, or maybe sad is the better word, because I love giving gifts as an expression of affection. But I feel like it's not "good for him." Just like I wouldn't buy him candy or suggest getting a dessert when dining with him, because he's trying to cut sweets from his diet. I'm trying not to "lead him into temptation," you know?
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: bah12 on January 07, 2013, 04:57:16 PM
This is a difficult question to answer.  On one hand, I wouldn't feel right in offering someone something that I knew would contribute to a health problem, but at the same time, it wouldn't be my business to decide how someone goes about dealing with their problems.

I think it matters if the addiction is recognized medically or not.  For instance, I could have a friend that in my own opinion drinks too much, but that doesn't necessarily make them an alcoholic.  As a friend, I might try to suggest that we do things together that doesn't lend well to drinking (like going for hikes vs going out to a bar), but I don't think that I would not offer them a drink if they were at a party in my home...especially based on my own opinion of whether or not they have a drinking problem.  Totally different if the drinking was a big enough problem that they had to seek professional help or were putting themselves in danger.  In that case, I wouldn't want to enable and I might not invite them to any event where there would be drinking.

For the hoarding thing, I think Friend A's motivation needs to be considered.  Did he offer the tv because it was a simple way to get rid of something and he dumped it on someone with a known problem, or is it just his opinion that Friend B is a hoarder?  I've been to a lot of packed and messy homes, but I don't think that automatically makes someone a hoarder.  I would be careful to not pass judgement on another adult simply because of my own biases and opinions. 

If I knew for a fact that Friend B was indeed a hoarder and that their living conditions were unsafe and unhealthy and/or if Friend B was actively trying to get help for a hoarding problem, then no, I would not offer them anything or help add to their stash.  If on the other hand, I had a personal opinion that they have too much stuff and too many tv's and I offered up a free one to which they said they'd take, then I'd give to them.  Treating them no different than friends whose homes I find neater and less cluttered.

ETA:  I re-read the OP and realized that it was the friend that helped move the TV that concluded that Friend B was a hoarder.  I'm assuming that this friend does not know Friend B on any level, just made the assumption while visiting the house.  And while the assumption may have been accurate, it could very well have not been.  Like a said, cluttered, overstuffed, and dirty doesn't necessarily mean a hoarder.  There is no evidence that Friend A maliciously or even selfishly used Friend B to get rid of a tv knowing that he had a problem.  It's quite possible that Friend A had never even been to Friend B's home before he delivered the TV.  I think in this particular case, it is no one's business.  But, for the generic question, the above still stands for me.  I might not offer something based on my opinion, but I wouldn't stop them from getting it unless I knew they had a medical condition or I felt they were in danger.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: kitchcat on January 07, 2013, 05:04:05 PM
It's called enabling and not only is it unethical, it's borderline malicious IMO. If A was aware B had an issue with hording and was trying to overcome it, A should not have gone out of his way to trip up B's efforts with more temptations. Yes, the world is full of temptations that B will have to learn to resist, but A was knowingly (and needlessly) feeding B's hoarding habit, which is cruel and destructive.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Yvaine on January 07, 2013, 06:01:18 PM
ETA:  I re-read the OP and realized that it was the friend that helped move the TV that concluded that Friend B was a hoarder.  I'm assuming that this friend does not know Friend B on any level, just made the assumption while visiting the house.  And while the assumption may have been accurate, it could very well have not been.  Like a said, cluttered, overstuffed, and dirty doesn't necessarily mean a hoarder.  There is no evidence that Friend A maliciously or even selfishly used Friend B to get rid of a tv knowing that he had a problem.  It's quite possible that Friend A had never even been to Friend B's home before he delivered the TV.  I think in this particular case, it is no one's business.  But, for the generic question, the above still stands for me.  I might not offer something based on my opinion, but I wouldn't stop them from getting it unless I knew they had a medical condition or I felt they were in danger.

I'm going to agree with pretty much all of your post, bah, and specifically this part. Friend A may have never seen the house. And with the increased awareness of hoarding in the last few years due to the TV show, I think sometimes people are assumed to be hoarders when maybe they're just plain old slobs. There's a psychological difference between the two and an acquaintance can't necessarily diagnose that difference.
Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: baglady on January 07, 2013, 06:50:49 PM
ETA:  I re-read the OP and realized that it was the friend that helped move the TV that concluded that Friend B was a hoarder.  I'm assuming that this friend does not know Friend B on any level, just made the assumption while visiting the house.  And while the assumption may have been accurate, it could very well have not been.  Like a said, cluttered, overstuffed, and dirty doesn't necessarily mean a hoarder.  There is no evidence that Friend A maliciously or even selfishly used Friend B to get rid of a tv knowing that he had a problem.  It's quite possible that Friend A had never even been to Friend B's home before he delivered the TV.  I think in this particular case, it is no one's business.  But, for the generic question, the above still stands for me.  I might not offer something based on my opinion, but I wouldn't stop them from getting it unless I knew they had a medical condition or I felt they were in danger.

I'm going to agree with pretty much all of your post, bah, and specifically this part. Friend A may have never seen the house. And with the increased awareness of hoarding in the last few years due to the TV show, I think sometimes people are assumed to be hoarders when maybe they're just plain old slobs. There's a psychological difference between the two and an acquaintance can't necessarily diagnose that difference.

This. Thanks to advances in medical science and psychology, and this information-out-the-wazoo age we live in, we're aware of a lot of things that we didn't know about just a few decades ago, and that's led to an awful lot of armchair diagnosing. But not everybody with a messy house is a hoarder, any more than every difficult kid has ADD or every socially awkward person is on the autism spectrum.

I would give friend A the benefit of the doubt and assume he never saw B's house before. If someone put out the word to me that he'd take unwanted electronics, I'd figure he wanted them for parts, or to fix up for resale or charity.

If I *knew* he was a hoarder, though, I wouldn't offer him anything. Not because it would be enabling his addiction so much as it would be keeping the stuff from someone who might actually put it to use. I have a hoarder friend, and he's the reason I no longer Freecycle. He trawls Freecycle for names he recognize and pesters us to give him what we're offering ... even if there's no way in heck he can ever use it.

Title: Re: Adding to the hoard?
Post by: Promise on January 11, 2013, 11:18:31 PM
This has been so interesting to read. Thank you for your comments. Friend A and B know each other very well. My DH didn't know about the hoard until he went into the house. The others tvs are not used for parts because neither adult in the home tinker and fix things. But isn't that an excuse many hoarders use? I'll keep x number of these items because someday I might be able to fix them?  I just found it interesting that Friend A knowingly added to a hoard that my husband said rivaled the tv show hoarders. The home had trails within the hoard which consumed rooms from floor to almost the ceiling. I would never bring my opinions up to the family because how they live is none of my business. I just found it interesting and wondered how others would respond.