I am very particular about the movies I watch, but I will always love movies about high school.
With so many classic films like “The Breakfast Club,” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the movies about the 4-year experience are almost always great. When I compare my high school experience to the movies about high school, the two have drastic differences except for one thing; gossip is still alive and well.
In high school, there was so much gossip, I couldn’t keep up with it. It’s a bit of an epidemic when a rumor would start and then only a couple of hours later, the majority of the school knows about it. While rumors may be easy to listen to and quick to share, the amount of damage it can cause somebody is immeasurable. The awful truth about gossip is that while it may be standard in our current society, it’s incredibly harmful and toxic, and we have to fight it in our own communities.
I’ll never forget when I was the victim of gossip. I knew there was a rumor circulating about me, but I did not know exactly what was being said. I would see people talking and laughing, and then disperse when they saw. It made me feel like I was on an island where all the people that can help you simply don’t want to.
When I finally did hear the rumor (which turned out to be false), the amount of betrayal I felt in my heart was too much for words.
When it comes down to it, gossip is a piece knowledge that is confidential to some, but shared with others. I think it’s human nature to want to seek and know something secretive, especially when it’s about the people in our lives, and to want to share that private information once we receive it.
But just because it’s something we gravitate toward, that doesn’t make it okay.
Gossip isn’t Factual
The main problem and most hurtful part about gossip is that most often it’s not factual; some factors, if not the whole rumor, can be falsified. Stories don’t often get a fact-check before it spreads. As long as it’s interesting, people will want to hear it and share it.
Think about fairy tales. Stories like Rapunzel or Rumplestiltskin don’t last centuries because they’re realistic; they last because they’re interesting, and those legends get people’s attention when they’re told. The same idea goes for gossip.
Gossip, due to its nature, gets spread. It’s often interesting, compelling, and full of stuff that we want to share. When a rumor gets spread to a certain extent, that rumor becomes its own truth.
The entire rumor could be made up, but if a large amount of people share it and believe that the rumor is true, then it becomes its own truth. When this new “truth” is confronted with the true story or fact by the ones involved with the rumor, the victims of such gossip will have a difficult time convincing others of the real truth because the rumor has been shared so many times.
Gossip could contain twisted truths, misconceptions or straight up lies. When these rumors can get extremely harmful though, is when that rumor becomes its own truth; one that people believe in and spread.
Gossip is Divisive
From the moment a rumor is created or a secret becomes confidential, several divisions are created.
One of these divisions created is between the people who know the piece of knowledge, and the people who don’t. This division creates tension within the two groups, and as stated earlier, the people who have the information may feel bad if they don’t tell the people who want to know. The people who don’t know the rumor feel left out, which creates an awful feeling that you’re “out of the loop.”
There’s another division that is created when people start gossiping, and that’s between the people involved in the rumor and the people not. Rumors will always be about one particular person or a few specific people, and often times, when gossip begins and spreads, the people involved are rarely confronted about the particular rumor to find out the truth.
It might seem like nobody’s getting hurt at first, but If the people involved know that someone or some people are saying something about them behind their back, and they don’t know what it is being said, a combination of loneliness, curiosity, and anger can occur. “What are they saying about me? Why won’t anybody tell me what it is? How many people are in on this?” There are thoughts that nobody should experience.
Gossip Can Be Stopped
So how exactly do we beat gossip when it’s so tempting to engage in it? Well, to quote Pope Francis, the key to fighting gossip is:
“To be quiet, to treat others well, to not answer with some other bad thing. Like Jesus: Jesus was meek of heart – meekness. And we live in a world where to one insult we respond with another, this is usual. We insult one another, and we lack meekness. We must ask for the grace of meekness, meekness of heart.”
I’ve learned that often times, being quiet is a small thing you can do to save a lot of trouble. If you’re ever not sure about if you should say something or not, you probably shouldn’t. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Another thing to contemplate when hearing a rumor or when you might be about to retell a rumor is a simple “Would the people involved in this story be okay with people, or me, saying this certain thing about them?”
It might be hard to step back when attention-grabbing knowledge is being told or you’re about to tell an embarrassing story, but it’s an awesome way to check yourself to see if this story is fine to tell or listen to.
On a similar train of thought, be aware of the classic “Golden Rule” to treat others as you want to be treated. If someone was about to say the same thing about you, would you want it to be shared? If so, how or with who? This simple rule can save you save so much unnecessary stress and drama if you just think about it.
Gossip is a very tempting trap because it’s a sin that’s become so normal in our society that most of the time when we see it, we don’t think twice about it. We must fight gossip as fiercely as we fight about any other sin because it can destroy self-esteems, trust, and reputations with a few careless words.