This week, we’re going to cover why gossip is counterproductive and unworthy of an individual’s time.
What is gossip
Gossip is the exchange of rumors between different people. Scandal has many elements including:
- Secondhand – Hearsay is usually discussed between people who did not participate in the activities. For example, a coworker who heard that two other coworkers are breaking up is a gossiper who has no direct participation in the ending of the relationship.
- Speculation – Gossiping requires significant speculation which arises from concrete facts. Yes, the two co-workers are breaking up but could it be because of infidelity? Maybe financial troubles? Oh, I heard it was familial disagreements. See? All speculation.
- Appeal to Vice – Rumor is usually delivered in hushed tones behind closed doors while the participants giggle and gasp. This sort of communication invites the consideration of negatives and vice while rarely serving our nobler qualities. Very rarely have I been apart of a gossiping circle which discussed the excellent merits of another human being. For example, no one puts forth that the co-workers may be breaking up because someone needs to be with their sick and dying mother out-of-state. No, we jump to the easier conclusions which paint everyone involved in a bad light.
Gossip’s secondhand nature invites its seedier undertones. Because we’re discussing people and events we’re not intimate with, a degree of speculation creeps in. This speculation allows for our imagination to run wild in an unfortunate direction, so we become attached to vice instead of virtue.
Gossiping in practice
News and stories worth exchanging involve truth and are typically firsthand accounts. Gossip thrives on speculations while the truth provides concrete, objective knowledge and evidence which helps the listener draw a meaningful conclusion.
Let’s take the termination of an employee named John Doe. John Doe is fired for misconduct, and the office is abuzz as to why his employment was terminated. However, only three people were present for the termination: John Doe, his boss, and an HR staff member. Because of this, everyone else discussing John Doe’s termination is speculating and participating in gossip. The statement “John Doe was terminated for misconduct” is accurate. However, what the misconduct was or whether or not it was a fair termination, fall within the realm of gossip.
In this situation, it’s less productive to seek out co-workers who simply saw John Doe pack up his things and leave. It’s more productive to speak directly to management to ensure that there was an honest reason to fire John Doe. They can’t relay every detail, but if the firing seems suspicious or in lousy judgment, then one can leave the company.
This approach gets directly at the heart of the matter by speaking to authority and those present at the firing to gain a better understanding of what happened. Additionally, the end goal is to understand if the company one works for is acting professionally. With gossip, the goal is to simply waste time feeding into each other’s fantasies in order to keep ourselves entertained.
Why gossiping hurts the individual
Similar to lying, gossip is beneath the individual. We should always seek to attain direct information, not secondhand accounts tainted by the fantasies of bored and boring people.
However, there are other reasons why gossip hurts the individual:
- It traps us in a bad habit – Gossiping is a bad habit that will easily infest all of our conversations. Once we permit ourselves to chatter about the little things, we will dutifully gossip about larger concerns and issues. Additionally, we will soon dislike having to confront people and gaining firsthand knowledge. When in a conflict or curious about the truth surrounding a problem, we will disregard facing the issue. Instead, we will gossip about a rude coworker instead of telling them directly about their unprofessionalism. Or we will talk about John Doe instead of asking management what happened. In conclusion, we will prefer quick and easy entertainment to conflict resolution.
- It makes us associate with subpar people – Personally, all the gossipers I’ve ever known have shown themselves to be backstabbing, deceitful, and dishonest people who will lie in a heartbeat. These people are typically all smiles and love talking about other people with you but will soon you turn your back they will discuss your faults. These people lack loyalty and only wish to learn more secrets and compromising info so that they can exchange it all for popularity.
- It ruins our reputation – When we chatter we are looked down upon by honest people. Gossiping takes a degree of dishonesty and manipulation. Thus, good people will seek to avoid it as much as possible. It’s crucial to steer away from exchanging the secrets of other people’s lives. Additionally, you should lower the amount of time you spend speculating on the lives of others.
- It undermines our narrative creation – when we gossip we take the focus off ourselves and our agency while listlessly focusing on the perceived lives of others. This impairs our ability to create narratives and ideals which inspire us to push forward. Gossiping is a vice-focused attitude that ensures we will always feel doubt and regret as we deal dishonestly with other people.
- We hurt others – In the John Doe example above, we don’t know why John Doe was fired. However, if we participate and push forward the gossip that he was fired for sexual misconduct, then we potentially ruin his reputation for our own meaningless entertainment. This is horrible and such activities are wrong for the individual to participate in. We should utilize others as a means of entertaining ourselves.
- When was the last time you gossiped? What did you chat about?
- Who did you gossip with? Did the people you gossiped with seem like virtuous individuals?
- The next time you gossip, ask yourself why you feel the urge to chat. Also, analyze what you’re trying to achieve. Is your goal the truth or something shallower?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Wikipedia Commons and Unsplash.