CHOG #4 - DO YOU GOSSIP?
Updated: Aug 6, 2022
Yikes, I do! I don’t think you could necessarily call me a “gossip” in a derogatory(?) sense, but I do enjoy a juicy story. Again, to use Kevin's wisdom from the movie, Home Alone,
"We all do!" (insert giggle giggle!). Well, my husband doesn’t, and he has restrained this in me numerous times. I won’t try to paint him as sanctimonious, but he’s unusual in that sense than most people, as in he doesn’t enjoy (I guess would be a better way to put it) hearing things about anyone that may or may not be true.
Okay, that’s fine, I just call my son, Hayden (insert giggle giggle!).
I got the idea for this Chog one day while listening to The Dr. Laura (Schlesinger) Show on the radio. I love listening to her. Her advice is most always concise and spot on. Steve and I enjoy listening to her for hours when we go on road trips. Sometimes we comment to each other that her advice is so right but might be impossible for a person to follow. Oh, how nice it would be if we could. In this particular segment, a caller called in to ask Dr. Laura’s advice on something that someone told her they heard “through the grapevine” about something someone had said about her and how she should react or respond to the person that (supposedly) said this, not the person that was spreading the rumor. Dr. Laura quickly said that she listens to nothing “through the grapevine” and certainly when you are confronted with something in this manner, why in the world would you confront someone else based on what a third party is telling you? What if it’s not true? What if it was taken out of context? She told this caller that if and until she hears directly from the person mentioned in this rumor about this issue, she should not give it another thought. Further she said that in the future, when confronted with a rumor, she should quickly stop the person from going any further and tell them how damaging it can be (and usually is) to the person being rumored about and that they should not be the carrier of a rumor to others. Great advice.
But does the “normal” person act that way? I don’t think most of us do. But why not, I asked myself. I certainly don’t want anyone to gossip about me – do you want people to gossip about you? Then why do we do this to others?
Sometimes we may think we are being a “safe gossiper” because we choose carefully the person to regale with our ill-gotten rumor...a trusted confidant or maybe your partner or spouse. And maybe this is safe, but maybe it isn’t. What about when your trusted listener doesn’t remember to forget? And how about gossiping in the workplace? This can be a huge breeding ground for a seasoned or newbie gossiper. There is always something juicy that can be talked about when throwing together a loosely related group of people. And what about the person who doesn’t spread gossip but is always willing to listen to gossip? I found myself in this position occasionally when I owned my business. When one of my administrators or one of my teachers would come to gossip with me (not telling me something that they thought I needed to know, but just idle gossip) and instead of stopping them in their tracks (as Dr. Laura advises), I listened. And what do you think happened in a lot of cases? That same “gossiper” would, of course, spread this juicy bit of info to someone else and might preface it by saying “Yep, me and Ms. Kay were just talking about _____". Now you are, unwillingly or unfairly maybe, part of the story of this gossip which might now give it a degree of legitimacy. The listener cannot separate themselves from the gossiper.
Partners in crime – it takes two to tango – you know those sayings. We think we are innocent in this scenario, but we aren’t.
If gossiping were not interesting, entertaining, and part of the way most of us are “wired”, what would happen to the tabloid industry? What about entertainment and really nowadays, main-stream news? I mean, Jennifer Aniston should be a mother of 5 by now and Keith and Nicole have been divorced (and I guess re-married in private) half-a-dozen times. We can’t get enough of it (insert giggle giggle)! And all these reality TV shows that we have bankrolled these no-name people to become billionaires because they have let us into their homes to showcase, and yes, gossip about themselves and their families - well, that is shameful to me. I mean there’s even a show now heralding celebrities’ children that they advertise “have no life skills” and we are supposed to be interested in that! Of course society has and always will be interested and enamored with “legit celebrities”, but I’m talking about these "housewives" and other “families”, that heretofore had absolutely no reason for us to be interested in anything they were doing, have parlayed this “gossip factor” not only into millions of dollars just by putting a camera into their homes, but into fashion wear, make-up, health food drinks and food, you name it, they are in it and we “allowed” this to happen. Why? It’s us, the “innocent” consumers of the gossip and not the “gossiper” who is to blame for this trend and phenomenon of “reality TV”. There’s little reality in it. Read a little more about this in my book, INSERT GIGGLE GIGGLE, Laughing Your Way through Raising Kids and Running a Business, in the chapter, You Can’t Make This Up”.
Have you ever been hurt by a rumor, gossip? Have you hurt someone? Has anyone that you cared about been the target of this bullying tactic in a small or big way? Sociologists have conducted studies and have classified gossip as either positive or negative. In reading through some of this research, it appears that the “positive gossip” centered around sharing information to others about someone else as a way to inform, alert, or even warn the recipient to possible trouble ahead for them. The “negative gossip” addresses gossiping as passing along information that is unsubstantiated, harmful, or for the personal gain of the gossiper. Either way, gossiping is always about passing along information in the absence of the person who may be able to clear up any misconception or falsehoods that directly concerns and potentially harms both them and the person receiving the gossip.
So, gossip. Positive or negative. Which do you practice? Sometimes I had to say to an employee that was furious when I confronted them with something they had said or a rumor they started, without knowing anywhere near the facts of something going on, and they were mad at the person that told me, “Hey-don’t blame them. If you hadn’t of told them, they would never have had anything to tell me”. The blame always lies with the one starting the rumor or gossip and each and every one after that gains responsibility until someone puts a stop to it. Sometimes this might mean bringing everyone together that was involved as well as affected by the gossip – not a very pleasant place to be in for anyone.
I’ve learned a little about myself while writing this Chog. I’ve considered and reflected on a few instances that I can recall when I was involved in gossip. I’m sure there are times that I don’t even recognize gossip in myself even as I am doing it. Talking with people that you trust and giving them information about others is also seen as a way (by sociologists) that we have preserved our connective fabric to each other, in fact even our collective history. If not for cultural and individual stories, indeed even folklore, handed down from person to person (somewhat the definition of gossip), how would we have a historical basis on who and what has shaped our world? Just keep on telling yourself that (insert giggle giggle!).
Just be careful. Sharing stories about others (not there to tell it themselves or hear your version) can be dangerous or at the very least unfair. Never start a sentence with “guess what I just heard”. That’s never going to end well. Only share knowledge with others that you know first-hand and even be cautious with that. We’ve always heard, Knowledge is Power. Wield that power judiciously.
Next up….(Monday) ~ ARE YOU HAPPY?
Always remember to insert a giggle giggle~ Kay😊