What exactly is gossip? Growing up most people I knew thought gossip was confined to women in a group. Conversations usually started with phrases like “Girl, did you hear?” or “You didn’t hear this from me” or my personal favorite “I’m not trying to be messy but…” and then directly proceed to be all kinds of messy. I get it, gossip is fun to talk about sometimes (maybe a lot of the time). You do not want to be the one who doesn’t know what is going on, or be out of the loop with the latest gossip.
But what is it? What is gossip? The dictionary defines it as casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true. But there is such a fine line. When does me telling my wife about a co-worker whose husband lost his job for stealing from the company, move from just informing her to flat out gossip. I think there is a simple way to know if you are gossiping or not. If you are neither part of the problem or part of the solution while discussing it there is a 98.97% chance you are gossiping (all numbers approximate). I might not know how to define it but I know it when I hear it.
So how do we battle gossip, to make sure we do not destroy ourselves or important relationships? I have some tips I believe will help. These aren’t groundbreaking, earth shattering discoveries. But I have seen every episode of Gossip Girl so I am uniquely qualified to discuss gossip in this space. I know you are not supposed to swear but I swear it was for research purposes and mostly because my wife made me so please do not judge me (XOXO). Here are 3 remedies I believe work if you employ them.
Mind your business
OK its story time. I was in a public bathroom and I just sat down and I heard a voice from the next stall saying “Hey, how are you”? (Weird right….I know!) I had to see where this was going so I answered, “Feeling a little tired, but I am fine”. Then he said “What are you up to”? To which I replied “Nothing much, probably the same as you just being way less weird about it”. Then he was like “Can I come over”? At this point I am going through my Rolodex of every single Law and Order SVU episode and every Criminal Minds episode so I can be prepared for every possible outcome. But all I could say was “Not right now I’m a little busy”. Sounding annoyed he finally said “Hey let me call you back this idiot in the next stall keeps answering me”. That was day I learned to mind my business. OK, this didn’t actually happen but I could see it happening to someone. When it comes to gossip you don’t have to be in the know just because you happen to be close to the situation. Some things are just not any of your business and that is ok. You can’t solve all of the problems you come across and that is also ok. What is not ok is finding out information and offering unsolicited advice when you have so many other problems of your own to fix. Sweep around your own front door before you sweep around mine.
See what God has to say about it
As a parent of small children, they always ask me these extremely hard questions that I am not prepared to answer. How am I supposed to explain something I know nothing about. I am not cable news. But you know who has all the answers for every conceivable question…God does. There are a plethora of verses you can meditate on if gossip is something you struggle with. Titus 3:10, James 3:7-8, Matthew 12:36, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 10:18-21, Proverbs 16:28. As the last few passages suggest Proverbs is an excellent source of anti-gossip material. These are literal tweets from God before the internet was even invented. God is smart he is the valedictorian of the universe graduating with honors and no student loan debt. We should all heed his warnings and stay away from gossip.
Just tell the truth about the situation
Most of the time gossip is just lies, conjecture and speculation. Once the truth comes out and someone finds out you are the source of the gossip you usually have to defend yourself. But if you start off telling the truth from the beginning, you won’t have to defend yourself. Saint Augustine said the truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it, you just let it loose and it defends itself. Don’t put spin on the story. Don’t embellish. In fact let’s go back to my simple definition. If you are not part of the problem or part of the solution just stay out of it. Gossip destroys relationships, creates trust issues, and the pain it causes vastly outweighs the momentary pleasure it derives.
I like to keep things simple mostly because I get confused easily and the more I get confused the easier it is for my children to take advantage of me. So here is a simple recap about gossip
- Mind your business.
- Listen to God.
- Truth good, gossip bad.
Like I said before these are not earth-shattering revelations. We all need a reminder that we are better than this. We don’t need to gossip to fit in. Don’t be that guy or girl who is known as a gossiper.