I have pretty strong feelings about gossip. It pisses me off. I don't know if it's because of my 20+ years as a social worker (confidentiality!) or my 30ish years reading tarot (confidentiality!!), but I just. Don't. Like. It.
I was in my 30's, in fact, before I realized that people talked about me after I left a room. I suppose I never thought about it. Why would people talk about me? I'm approachable and open to conversations. It just never occurred to me that I would be that much food for conversation, I suppose. The way that I realized that people do talk about me sometimes was finding out that one of my friends thought I was Smug. Wow. Ouch. That hurt. And the way I found out? Gossip. Blergh.
I am not perfect. I'm positive that I've said shitty things about people before, and I'm sure that I haven't been as trustworthy as I'd like, but I actively try to remember this quote,
Again, I am not perfect, but I have tried to become a good person, and the good people that I look up to? They just don't talk shit about other people. I used to read blogs like Perez Hilton, but after a while? They started making me feel gross. Celebrating in other people's shame or embarrassment is not something I aspire to. So I quit. I stopped listening to Shock Jock radio, after realizing that the one I listened to literally couldn't talk for 10 minutes (I timed them every morning for a week) without making fun of people. Yuck.
We have a minister in my church who was talking about having an inclusive and welcoming environment, and that one of the ways to best do that is to "Pretend everyone is in the room." As a great example of this, I have an aunt, with green eyes and blonde hair, who overheard classmates dogging out Native Americans. She got to tell them that she was Native, and that they should watch their damn mouths. They were completely shocked. I always think about this. I always wonder how someone would feel if they heard how I was talking about them. Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
The Queen of Swords (inverted) is a nasty card. Full of self-doubt, lack of mental clarity, and bitchiness. Whenever this card comes up in a reading, I caution my clients to think carefully about the words flying out of their mouths. Words are sharp and can cut. They can change someone's life. They can make someone feel soo bad about themselves. What you say can have a serious effect on whomever you're talking about. Words have intent. Even if you get lucky, and your gossip doesn't make it back to its target, guess what? You just spewed all of that negativity into the universe for no good cause. Nice one.
So why do people gossip? Because we can? Because it can make us feel better about ourselves? I read an interesting article that said this
And a friend made a very good point - sometimes, it's hard to avoid. I think that when we're younger, it's harder to walk away from conversations that turn gossipy. We want to fit in. We want people to like us. If people start saying that So-and-So is so stupid because blah blah blah, maybe if we walk away, we'll be called stupid, too. That's a difficult lesson to learn. That confidence that lets us see that we're becoming part of the problem.
Reasons to not gossip include: because you could hurt someone. Because it's mean. Because it's negative. Because those that listen to you gossip will gossip about YOU.
I think that the most important reason to stop gossiping is this; Because it doesn't serve you. It doesn't make you smarter. It doesn't help you feel better about yourself, except for that one brief second. It doesn't make you trustworthy in other's eyes. It just doesn't serve you.
If you catch yourself sliding down into a mean spirited conversation, there is only one thing to do. Stop it. Do better next time. That's it. That's what I tell my kids, myself and that's what I'm going to tell you. You can do better than this - prove it.
I have faith in you.