Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Friendly Fire

Let's talk a little bit about gossip.

I'm both a woman and a human, and I'll admit to being curious about people. We all like news. That's why we have it, right?

But sometimes gossip is more than just current events. It's catty. It's mean. It's pointless.

I've participated in gossip before. It might be fun for a moment, discussing people, feeling superior to them. But after that moment, I feel bad. I feel guilty for saying something that might be hurtful if they heard about it.

For argument's sake, I'm going to define GOSSIP ACCORDING TO ME.

Level 1: Talking about someone in a positive way. (Example: "Mary Jo makes the best desserts. You should ask her.")

Level 2: Talking about someone in a curious way. (Example: "Did he really beat all the others in the race?" or "I heard that he came in last place last year.")

Level 3: Talking about someone in a condescending, mocking way. (Example: "Her hair was so purple. Did you see the roots?" or "Nobody wears those shoes anymore. I guess she didn't get the memo.")

I'm going to say that we all like Level 1. If I found out that someone was talking about me in a pleasant way, I'd feel flattered. Pleased. We like to be well-thought of.

Level 2 isn't necessarily bad either, but here's where I see a problem with it: Most of the information is not coming first-hand. You're hearing it from someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone. It might not be true information, whether good or bad, and it could still spread.

Level 3 is not good. That's just the truth. Why should we ever try to put ourselves above someone else? Why should we make fun of people? When I think of this type of gossip, I think it's all very superficial, based on someone's looks or clothing or family. It's not about who they are.

I'm taking a closer look at myself and resolving to steer clear of levels 2 & 3 as much as I can. Most of the time we don't want to hurt people, and this is a good way to make sure I don't. After all, we might be talking about our friends, or people our friends care about. We don't want anyone to feel like they've been shot in the back.

Just my 2 cents today.


Theresa Milstein said...

I've been guilty of gossip. I am also trying to be better about it.

In Jewish law, the two sins you can't be forgiven for are murder and gossip. Murder, because you can't seek forgiveness from the victim and gossip, because it spreads too far for you to repair the damage.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

wow. unforgivable gossip? it is hard to undo the damage, that's for sure.

Stacy Henrie said...

Love this post, Tamara. I'm realizing more and more that we rarely know all the story. Better to refrain from judgement because that's what I hope people will do for me. :)

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

So right, Stacy. Not only that, but we'd hate to have it get back to the person that we were talking about them!

Janet Johnson said...

Great post! I love how you give it levels . . . and I totally agree. I'm sure I do the level 2 more than I should, but I do try to only say things I would say to the person themselves if I could. But it's a good thing to think about what you're saying before just diving in, and your levels are a good reminder. :)

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

I'm the same way. Level 2 is difficult b/c it leads into level 3 so easily...but yes, I do it too! It's not always bad. it's just so hard for sometimes to know the difference! I hope I avoid #3 always!

Caitlin Vincent said...

I never thought of splitting gossip into categories like that. Very insightful post :)

Btw, I tagged you in a meme if you'd like to participate!

Kari Marie said...

I've been guilty of all of them and I always feel bad if I reach level 3. Then I hammer myself for it for hours. Why is it so easy to fall into a level 3 if the person you are talking with starts it? I guess I need to sit around and think about HOW to respond when someone starts with the Level 3 gossip. Then I'll be prepared.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

I always feel bad afterwards! I get this horrible pit in my stomach. major guilt trip! yeah, I gotta watch that.

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