I thought I’d chuck in my tuppence worth before Christmas time – one of the most active, lucrative and dynamically changing times of the year. Hence why I thought this might be a good topic to discuss. Merry Christmas all you HGS readers! – Slipperella xx
Sometimes comrades, all I seek in my morning is a nice almond latte, a yoga session to keep the back bent, an update from BBC World News, a phone call from a friend or two, a moment to write and a little sophisticated conversation to JC and I swear I can feel myself getting younger. This happens on most days – praise the LAMB! But sometimes, my day is interrupted and I’m as befuddled as Rudolph was with the whole nose thing, because conversations apparently happen on my behalf, with a bunch of people, who have spoken no more than 3 words to my actual eyeballs. The rest, sweet friends, has been about me.
Yes, we’re talking about good old-fashioned gossiping. The demonic tonic that weaves a web bigger than Charlotte’s, dividing friends, communities and relationships quicker than you can say, ‘she did WHAT with WHO?’
The problem with this deadly idleness is that as the subject, you could exhaust yourself from trying to deny its falsehood, whilst they as the creators (although they are hard to pin point at times) have certainly gone down on your Christmas card list and couldn’t give a flying hoopla what your response would be. Their aim is to guard their own hearts, not yours.
Curiosity killed the cat for a reason. I’ve had everything from apparently giving a man oral sex outside a work party (an event I wasn’t even at) to apparently leaving one boyfriend for another (how little they know me). My justice button flares up and I want to confront the church member, the colleague, the ex boyfriend, the man who wants to be my boyfriend, the girl who wants your boyfriend, and tell them ‘you’re believing a lie and if only you had come to me first, I could have helped you focus on something far more satisfactory, like The Times crossword puzzle, or Jesus Christ – you know, the one you took your eyes off.’
The intrigue that people have over other people’s lives resides at Casa Ridiculous. It starts for a few reasons: curiosity, fear or general boredom central. Curiosity is never accurately measured because rarely does the ‘announcer’ confront the ‘subject’. It is speculation that drops seeds of doubt to another soul. Fear, creates a spirit of comparison with a general desire to sabotage someone else in order to validate themselves. Often it’s a residue from the demise of a friendship/relationship and they’re seeking some form of subtle revenge. It’s not enough that I dislike them, I want everyone to dislike them. Or, I don’t want people to think I’m the bad guy in the breakdown of the relationship.
I heard a story where a pastor here had been approached after a service and a man was telling the pastor all about the issues he had with another church member. The words weren’t the most edifying of content. The pastor waited for the man to finish and said ‘Have you told these issues to the man himself?’
‘No,’ the man replied.
‘Well, you have 24 hours to share everything you’ve just told me, or I can go and tell him.’
Gossip stops with us.
The secrecy of sharing can often be used as a tactic to bond two people and denying that information upload from another person can be a real test on the people-pleaser in you. But if it doesn’t stop with you, it will spread like Chicken Pox at a 2 year olds birthday party. Someone needs to be strong enough to blitz the chat with a fire extinguisher.
Is that you? Then let us be friends.
In communities that are supposed to love well and love equally, there has been too much division based on assumption which is counter productive to the whole reason intimacy was designed for. Gossip is the detonator for exploding apart unity.
I was fortunate to have a break up with a long-term boyfriend who kept our experiences and reasons for breaking up to an absolute minimum. We confided in a handful of people each, resolving the whole thing between us, because a) we’re past puberty and b) we had enough emotional maturity in our own identity. This is why we could remain friends today. I was spoiled with a really honorable guy back then, and it set a standard for the rest of gossip today. He covered me, regardless. Most aren’t this respectful because they didn’t get what they wanted from a [insert relationship label here].
I have attempted to shut it down just like foot and mouth disease, culling cows before it could spread. But it never worked; all it did was create a reaction of ‘methinks she doth protest too much’.
In recent months, discernment has become my new weapon against it all. Instead of battling against gossip, I remove myself from those who deem unsafe; those who are unable to cover those they once professed to care for.
In the words of Socrates: “strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”
I don’t know about you but I’m up for a strong mind. Slander is a form of control. Control is acted out from weakness. There have been a few people this past year who, instead of coming to me with a question, shared an assumption to groups I’ve led in relationships, friends that interact with me on a weekly basis, or perhaps the cashier that will listen for three minutes.
Only on one occasion have I confronted them due to the hurt of others involved; the truth had to be confronted for the sake of others feeling safe again in that environment. To slander someone else’s name without them being in the room is a controlling tool that suffocates the very basic human right for the voice of the subject. If the announcer didn’t doubt their own opinion, they’d have no problem with the subject being in the room, would they?
If it doesn’t build up harmony or love, I’m not interested. For it divides people forming more fear, more hurt, more anger. People then run with it, and communities (the church in particular) use the excuse of ‘caring’ to mask the fact they, too, are spreading the slander or believing it.
So today, when someone comes to you about someone you know, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to make a decision based on an assumption, or are you going to challenge them and suggest they go back to the very person they are talking about? If they are talking about others in this way, from a victim mentality, from a spirit of entitlement, from a reason to justify their own actions even, do you really believe they won’t talk about you like this one day?
There is a time to talk to friends and mentors in order to gain advice on how to talk to someone about an issue, but for it never to be returned by our own mouths, shows a great insecurity of our voice and a disempowerment of our right to be heard.
Gossip is the poison, confrontation is an antidote, and you can decide which one you want to carry around with you today, for the sake of community, for the sake of unconditional love, for the sake of your brother and sister, for the sake of respecting someone you once said you loved.
It’s time to buck up and stand firm in yourself and your faith. You could be the gateway to glory and be a promise of sincerity, never changing your love no matter the mess. Or you could be the door that closes off all love, for the sake of a secretive bond that was based on nothing but poor judgment.
Be brave, be bold, become trustworthy by suffocating rumors with the power of your own tongue.
Do just this, and you’ve already changed your world, and in my book, become far more attractive.