Tuesday, August 2, 2011


My mom used to say, “It’s all fine and good until you get hurt.” She was usually referring to some hair brained scheme my brothers and I dreamed up.  She might just as well been talking about gossip though.  It’s all fine and good until someone gets hurt and someone always gets hurt.  If you’re saying something behind someone’s back it’s gossip. I don’t care what your intention is. It’s mean. It’s bitchy. It’s two faced. So, why do we do it?

For one thing gossip is what passes for entertainment these days. Just turn on any entertainment show and even a few news shows for that matter.  Gossip sells. That’s the bottom line.  It feels justifiable to talk about someone we don’t like and gossiping makes it easy to dislike people. There’s a vicious cycle for you.  We whisper innuendo about people we barely know to make ourselves look better. Snide half truths are exploited to take people down a peg when we think they’ve gotten too full of themselves.  And as odd as it sounds we feed the rumor mill to bond with people and feel connected. According to a famous study about negativity in 2006 people feel closer to people over a shared dislike about people than a shared like. If that’s not a sad truth I don’t know what is. We talk about people and tell ourselves that we’re just trying to understand them.  Come one, let’s be honest here. We do it to be mean. Gossiping is social bullying at its worst rather you’re nine, nineteen or ninety. The reasons for doing it are the same and so are the results. 

Gossip is especially tempting to me when I’m annoyed with someone or feel wronged. I want release from my ill feelings and gossiping feels like a quick fix. Too bad it never works. Gossiping about someone will lay waste to your self confidence quicker than a plague of locust in a West Texas wheat field. If you want a boost in self confidence stop gossiping. That’s something the self esteem gurus won’t tell you. The real damage for me is that gossip hardens my heart and creates a barrier between myself and the person I’m gossiping about. That’s reason enough to purge gossip from my life. Gossip is one of the more noxious ways negativity expresses itself. It is devastating to relationships and communities of all kinds because it destroys the glue that holds a group together, trust.  Without trust you got nothing, baby.  That’s the real bottom line.

 My friends and I made a pact this week, no gossiping period, end of discussion. Gossip not only damages the relationship with the person we’re gossiping about it damages our relationship with each other. If a dog will bring you a bone, he’ll carry one. That’s how gossip works.  It’s cheap currency. I want more for myself and for my life. I got the whole it’s either fear or love baby thing and gossip is not love for anyone.

 “I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of everybody. “ ~Benjamin Franklin

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