Gossip, good or bad?

Confession – I love a gossip, plain and simple, because I love a good story.  My favourite magazine is Hello! My favourite past time is a cuppa with my bestie, putting the world right.

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Celebrity babies, weddings, where people have been, what house they’ve bought, I want to know about it all.

My specialist subject on Mastermind would be celebrity baby names.  I’m good with names.

The thing is, gossip is bad isn’t it?  At least that’s what I thought growing up.  Don’t repeat ANYTHING you are told for fear of recrimination, and worse, getting it wrong.

So partaking in gossip has always felt slightly salacious, anything said to me I’ve held in fierce confidence, for the self-righteous title ‘you can trust me’.  Except I’ve held on to my morals so tightly that I’ve invited ‘tense’ into my relationships.  I find it hard to just let go and let a conversation run free, I’m constantly watching my mouth.

I’m writing a piece that will go out on my church blog about gossip and it got me thinking about what I really think about the subject.

The truth is, I don’t really know.  I know that on one hand it feels completely harmless and on the other totally wrong and life destroying.  Is there a balance to be struck?

Gossip is good for you don’t you know? is a post that really got me thinking about gossip and whether I’ve been overthinking the subject.

The rule I set myself that keeps coming back to me is ‘don’t pass on anything that is not your story to tell’.

There is part of me that thinks that chit chat amongst friends is harmless, and yet when I went out for a meal recently a girl in the group shared some quite personal news about her friend and it felt, uncomfortable, like we shouldn’t have known that info and that it was private.

It wasn’t her story to tell.

So yes, gossip feels ‘icky’ at times, and downright wrong in others.

All I know is I’ve said no to lots of fun over the years for the price of my morals and I’ve kept my mouth shut when I could have spoken up.  Silence doesn’t change the world.

Do you think gossip is just a harmless piece of fun? or harmful to relationships, friendships and co-workers?

I’d love to hear your take on it.

 

Lizzie xo

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Gossip, good or bad?”

  1. In my policing days I gave talks on Gossip and Bullying. I would line 40 children up on the stage and I told the first person something. They then told the next person and so on until the end. At the end the original sentence was so distorted that it was laughable. I asked along the line what they said and it was interesting to see how early in the chain that person had taken it upon themselves to change the words.

    I said that they were just spreading the wrong message which just highlighted how people change words to fit them. It’s not big and it’s not clever. It’s also dangerous.

    The trouble with gossip is there are the gullibles who will believe everything they hear. I once had a supervisor who had nothing but praise for me until she realised I was outshining her, she then mounted a personal attack on me and was happy to tell anyone (and I mean anyone) about how rubbish I was. This caused me untold problems but I didn’t retaliate and I most certainly didn’t warm to those people who had previously been friends, they believed what they were told.

    That’s why I hate gossiping because it’s one step removed from bullying.

  2. That is such a great point Nellie I had not made that association. It’s so true, and that chinese whispers test highlights that perfectly. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective xo

  3. My pleasure. As a youth offending link officer and schools liaison officer as well as having my own children I have lots of experience and dealings when gossip goes wrong.

  4. It’s great to hear about the subject from your perspective, it can be really easy to think of gossip as a harmless bit of fun, and when serious consequences arise it can be tricky to see where the root of it is for some xo

  5. I think it can be really harmful and it is far too addictive. I lie yoru rule of ‘don’t share anything that is not your story’, that is a great boundary. Mich x #sharethejoy

  6. That’s what I’ve always been brought up by Michelle, chatting to a trusted friend the other day, her take on it was when you have been told something in confidence then passing it on is gossip. What do you think to my approach of staying quiet?

  7. Pingback: Share the Joy - Lizzie Somerset

  8. Love this Lizzie – passing something on that is passed to you in confidence is a definite no no for me and I’ve definitely moved away from gossip rags. When you’ve lived abroad as I have you learn to see that even the news is a form of gossip, he said she said is rife and every news channel’s take on something is slightly different, filtered through the lens that they choose to hold up to it. Great thought provoking post x #sharethejoy

  9. It’s a very interesting thought… whenever we retell something that we know, we *always* add our own spin to it. I mean, we don’t have memories that enable us to remember things word for word anyway, but the way we interpret something we hear in the first place is coloured by our own interpretation of events. So, for instance, if someone told me they had a new boyfriend, my impression of that news would be different to the impression someone else got – I may not approve of the match because the boyfriend reminds me of someone I once knew or I am worried for my friend, whereas someone else may think it’s the best news because the new boyfriend reminds them of someone they once knew or they know how happy our mutual friend is. Does that make sense? So naturally when we retell the story we add our own spin, even if simply through the inflection in our voice!

    But I don’t think gossip in and of itself is good or bad, it’s how we use it. The Gospel Stories that we now know from the Bible would never have been written down if people who experienced Jesus’ ministry or the movement of the first Christians hadn’t shared the news (in fact we’d never have heard anything if Jesus and his disciples themselves hadn’t gone out “spreading the word”). Whilst we wouldn’t automatically consider that to be “gossip” it was, in fact, hearsay a lot of the time – “listen to what I tell you”, “hear of the Good News” etc. We do the same today when we talk about faith, and the way we talk about it is changed by our own experiences (so, for instance, I turned away from religion in my late teens as the words being spoken so “authoritatively” by those I associated with Christianity really made me feel very ‘icky’ in how God was portrayed… but then over time the softer, more inviting words spoken by others taught me that Jesus taught a way of love and brought me to the place I’m at today where I feel like I still don’t quite fit in but that’s okay, I’m still welcome).

    So, for me, gossip is both good and bad. When it is shared with a desire to make connections, celebrate good news, and bring people together then it can be so good. But when it is shared with the intention of getting a reaction, regardless of the consequences, or making ourselves feel better about ourselves because we wouldn’t ever do that, then it can be really bad!

    I hope this very long comment makes some kind of sense – it’s hard to express quite what you mean sometimes, isn’t it? Which is exactly why we need to be mindful of our words!

    #sharethejoy

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