This week I have been thinking a lot about gossip….we all do it, it is really easy, and the words we speak can hurt and cannot be taken back. Gossip is a quick and easy way to “feel good” about ourselves. Yes, when I say something about someone else, I temporarily feel a little more confident, a little more secure, and a little more powerful. However, just like eating a meal of candy….it may seem like a great idea but, ultimately, gossiping doesn’t feel so good, and nor does it encourage others to feel good.
Social media has made gossip very, very, very easy. So, hurtful, unkind, untrue words can be put “out there” in the world wide web for all to see without any accountability. I think gossip can be the root of bullying and, unfortunately, what people say about others is becoming a very popular but damaging social trend.
So, what is gossip? Gossip is talking about someone else, based on what you heard or believe to be true, but not necessarily based on fact. A quick test to tell whether it is gossip or “concern” for another is to ask yourself a question….”Would I be saying this about another, if that person was standing right beside me? If you can honestly answer, yes, then you are good to express your thoughts. If you answer no, then you probably should keep your thoughts to yourself. Another good test for gossip is a quick self check-in, “Is what I am saying: true, kind, and necessary?”
Why do we gossip? I believe we gossip to feel better about ourselves, to fit in with a group, and because it is so much easier to say negative and untrue things about others than it is to say positive, uplifting, and encouraging things. Gossip is also a learned behavior…we are constantly bombarded with gossip through the media – twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and we copy what we see. It is getting increasingly difficult to tell the difference between gossip – and what people believe to be true – and fact – what is really true! And, gossip “sells”. It sells magazines, news, TV shows, and gossip even “sells” us our sense of value, belonging, social status, and feeling as though we are interesting to others.
Is there a better way? I would say, YES. As difficult as it may be, when you experience gossip, think about the feelings of the person being talked about. Consider if that were YOU being talked about. How would YOU feel? Also, you can try not responding to the comments or, better yet, saying something positive about the person being talked about.
Gossip has definitely become “a way of being” for a lot of us. I have been both the gossiper and the “gossipee” and, from experience, I can tell you, neither feels very good. I truly believe there is a better way to “fill up our cups”and feel good about ourselves, whether that is taking time to think about what makes us truly happy, tapping into our own authenticity, getting involved in the activities we love to do and finding our passion, or considering our unique strengths and not comparing ourselves to others.
It is my challenge to you, to STOP being the “gossip girl” and to START being the “authentic you”.