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). We 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 do I 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 99.9% 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 our important relationships?
Here are 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 don’t judge me XOXO).
Here are 3 remedies I believe work if you employ them against gossip.
Mind your business
OK, it’s storytime with Uncle Prescott. I was in a public bathroom and I just sat down and heard a voice from the next stall saying, “Hey, how are you?” (Weird right…I know!”) So like any other normal person, I had to see where this was going so I answered, “Feeling a little tired, but I am fine, and you?” 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 and every Criminal Minds episode, so I could be prepared for every conceivable 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 the day I learned to mind my business. OK, this didn’t really 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 to every possible question? God does.
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 with 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 that you are the source of the gossip you usually have to defend yourself. But if you started off telling the truth from the very beginning, you won’t have to defend yourself. St. 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 a 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 recap about gossip:
- Mind your business.
- Listen to God.
- Truth is 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 gal who is known as a gossiper. It is far worse than being known as the guy who watched every episode of Gossip Girl. Trust me I am an expert.
Prescott Williamson is a Bible-believing Christian. He is a husband, a father, and someone who believes that there is a little humor to be found in whatever situation God sends your way. He was born in the small islands of the Bahamas but now lives in the Suburbs of Fort Worth Texas, which is basically the same thing. He enjoys TV, reading, blogging and serving in his church (especially on the days they serve donuts). You can see what I have been thinking about lately on my blog www.prescottascoolbreeze.com.