The truth be known, every now and then most of us enjoy a juicy piece of gossip. These morsels of misery let us know that we are not the only one facing life’s challenges. Misery enjoys company and boy oh boy do those poor Kardashian’s have it rough! Unfortunately, some of us are addicted to gossip. For example, on cool summer evenings my wife and I like to sit outside on our porch, turn on our fire table and enjoy a glass of wine. Sadly, we have a neighbor who loves to gossip. Whenever my wife and I see her walking her dog down the street we instinctively head inside. Sometimes she is able to “sneak up on us” and our conversation with her ALWAYS goes something like this….How are you tonight Babs (fake name)? “Oh heavens I just can’t believe what’s going on with our HOA board and did you hear about so and so and rumor has it that such and such is going on down the street”! She will ramble on and on and then seem quite put out when we come up with some “lame excuse” why we must head back inside. In the three years that we have been exposed to her, she has never once asked my wife or I a single question about our lives or interests but she readily “spews” details about the majority of our neighbors. Some of it is actually quite nasty! Surely, she must have some “dirt” on us that she readily shares with others as she makes her nightly rounds. “You know those Burton’s are (fill in the blank)”. The gleam in her eyes is a dead giveaway to the personal fulfillment that being the “purveyor of secrets” seemingly affords her.
Recently, after a one sided conversation with my neighbor, I began contemplating why some people are just naturally attracted to gossip while others (like myself) are absolutely repelled by it? What motivates someone to become a “serial gossiper”? Lets take a look at some of the possible reasons.
Generational. For many, gossip is a learned behavior. Many of us heard our parents, relatives and friends gossip and so in order to fit in we may have actively joined the conversation. Anything we engage in long enough becomes a habit.
Opiate. Similar to most drugs, gossip tends to give us a false sense of contentment. The gossiper gets a “rush” from sharing “secrets” and when their audience nods their heads in approval or offers up an acknowledgement like “REALLY, I didn’t know that”, the gossiper is off and running in an unfiltered continuation of whatever half truths they are sharing.
Significance. Gossipers are fueled by an insatiable need to feel important and be viewed as people “in the know”. When they perceive to have an audience they tend to become even more audacious and their filter is turned all the way to the OFF position.
Societal. Gossip is a societal obsession. The tabloids (National Enquirer) sensationalize and outright lie about everything under the sun yet people clear the news stands with millions of sales each week. Tabloid television (Entertainment Tonight) and reality shows (Housewives of Mozambique) enjoy extremely high ratings because millions of people prefer being anywhere other than in their own reality. Sadly, millions of people rely on gossip as their sole source of information.
Ignorance. Gossip is a by product of ignorance. True intellectuals talk about ideas and solutions, small minds talk about people and problems. I have always been able to get an accurate read on someone by carefully listening to what they talk about!
Power. Gossipers derive a false sense of “power” from “sharing details about someone else”. There is no genuine “power” in “spewing” personal information and falsity about others. The gossiper is viewed by non gossipers as vicious and untrustworthy. They carry ZERO credibility!
5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU ENGAGE IN GOSSIP….
1. Would I still share this gossip if the person in question was standing next to me?
2. Is what I’m saying about the other person designed to build them up or discredit them?
3. What void in my life am I trying to fill by routinely gossiping about others?
4. How do I feel when I find out that someone has shared an untruth behind MY back? (Gossipers usually employ a double standard)
5. Who would I become If I made the conscious decision to let go of my need to share gossip?
Nothing positive comes from gossip. Reputations can be ruined, employment opportunities may be tarnished and personal relationships can be damaged or destroyed. Before you engage in any type of gossip I encourage you to ask yourself these 5 questions. I believe that it will help you to make a better, more empowered decision.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts.