Monthly Archives: March 2014

Don’t Let the Gossip Mill Get You

Andrea Freedman

If there is one thing I cannot accept about so-called human nature, it is the ingrained desire to want to spread gossip. What I find worse still are those who take pleasure in others’ misfortunes. They are first in line when it comes to being on the pulse of all the latest rumours. They ask about others in the guise of concern but it is really just because they want to know the dirt.

People say that everybody talks about everybody. Some say it is human nature; I say it’s a cop-out. In my opinion, just because something is considered to be the social norm, does not make it right. Nor does it mean that those of us who are intelligent enough to see through it have to perpetuate it.

I recall an occasion where an acquaintance shared a secret with me that someone else had confided in her only hours earlier. That person had asked her to please not mention a word of it to anyone. My acquaintance’s promise to her friend obviously meant nothing and it raised a red flag for me. If someone can gossip about someone else and especially that easily, they will more than likely talk about me as well. No one is exempt.

Because of how malicious and mean-spirited I find most gossip, I make a conscious effort not to discuss anyone else’s business. Even if I hear something about a person and someone else later tells me the details which I already know, I pretend I am hearing it for the first time and add nothing further to the conversation. I have been entrusted with family secrets that I have kept from my own parents. When I commit to keeping a secret, there are no exceptions to the rule.

There have been times when I have heard a piece of gossip and wished that I hadn’t. I have stopped someone in the middle of a conversation and asked “Should you be telling me this?” Their answer is usually something like “You don’t know anyone she knows.”

Personally, I would just as soon not know what other people say about me. I do, however, usually figure it out when someone betrays my trust. As I have learned my lesson in the past, I now generally make it a rule never to tell anyone anything that I want to be sure remains confidential.

You might say it is a sad way to live, not trusting others. What I think is sad is that it has been proven as fact to me time and again that most people cannot keep their noses out of other people’s business.

On occasions when I have wanted to unburden myself and share a secret with a friend, I have always premised it by asking them to please not tell anyone else. I have gotten responses like “Who am I going to tell?” or “No offense, but I’ve got better things to talk about.” Not the answers I was looking for. Most people seem incapable of simply saying (especially with sincerity) “Of course this will never go beyond this conversation. I promise I won’t tell a living soul.”

I can’t change the world. I can only make sure that when I assure someone that I will protect his or her privacy, my word means something.

The next time you are about to spread gossip, stop yourself and think about this: How would you feel if you were in your subject’s shoes?

Just because everyone else does something does not mean the rest of us should just go along with it when we know we can do better. If we lead by example then maybe, just maybe, one day human nature won’t come quite so naturally.♠

 

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2014

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