Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why Do You Gossip?

Conversation is when three women stand on the corner talking. Gossip is when one of them leaves.~ Herb Shriner

Psychologists, educators, scientists and other learned people appear to agree that gossip can be 'good' and is a way for people to let others know of someone who is not to be trusted.  They liken gossip to social 'grooming' - I'll flea you if you flea me type of interaction, which bonds people.  It can apparently act as a brake on people's behaviour - behaving badly can get you talked about, to put it simply.

Sadly, most gossip we seem to come across is anything but.  It is damaging, heartbreaking, nasty and just downright unnecessary.  An awful lot of gossip is unfounded, and so many of us immediately jump for joy when we hear about another person's 'bad behaviour'.  The gossip is instantly passed on, without regard to the effect it will have on our group as a whole, and on the individual being slandered.  Yep!  Slandered.

The people I have known who have relished gossip have been sour and unhappy people - who would be given nicknames such as "acid tongue"  and "vinegar tits".   Which says it all, don't you think?  The nastier the rumour, the more they ate it up.  It is probably a way for them to feel morally superior to others, at the very least.  One important thing to remember?  The game of 'Chinese Whispers' - who added what, about whom? Gossiping can quickly become a form of bullying.

There is a damned good reason why many religions frown upon gossip, and that is for the harm it does.  If you are a malicious person and an acid tongue, then I pity you - life is not meant to be sour.  Your life obviously is lacking some of the basic necessities, such as kindness and compassion, empathy and caring - else you would think again before you repeated some foul talk that has been passed on to you.

My name isn't goody two-shoes, or Pollyanna, and I even enjoy some fun gossip myself.  But not nasty, cruel gossip thank you very much.  Strangely, the only person I would trust with some things that have been said to me is my husband.  Because he doesn't gossip.  Sometimes that is infuriating!   I draw the line at repeating gossip which has no foundation other than nastiness or vengefulness.   If you can't say something nice?  Don't say anything at all.

Did you realise that when you repeat gossip it will affect many people?  Especially with social media the like of Facebook.  Gossip flies at the speed of fibre optic cable.

"... and gossip has great destructive powers. People use gossip for their own selfish interests at the expense of others. Subtle social cues can turn to hostility or manipulation and quickly trigger anger, shame, and resentment. "

In an article by  Nicholas DiFonzo, in Psychology Today, he states:

"There is an old saying that one shouldn't try to defend oneself against slander; your enemies won't believe you anyway and your friends don't need to hear your defense. And Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir has advocated resisting office gossip by gently advocating for the target. For example: "John wouldn't have done that intentionally-he is a very hard worker," and "I'm sure that she was just trying to be helpful."

The sad fact is that the majority of gossip IS malicious and is often unfounded.  And yet how many of us take the time or trouble to check the facts?  Very few, I fear.  Perhaps it is time to look at ourselves and figure out where we fit in?  Wanna be vinegar tits?

Erm... vinegar tits?  Did you know that people gossip about you, and your nasty tongue?

No comments: