Gossip, gossip, gossip. It happens everywhere: at work, at school, online, and even at home. Sadly, gossip has become a part of Western culture and a way for those “mean girl” cliques to form in high school. Here’s where gossip stems from and how the gossiper can break the habit.
WHY WE GOSSIP
Insecurity leads a person to continuous gossip. Gossipers are likely walking around with a halo of low self-esteem dangling over their heads. They lack self-confidence and will find any slanderous thing to say about a certain someone they feel threatened by. Insecure people who are prone to gossip want to feel bigger and better than their target, so they spread lies and puff up the things they find negative or unusual about that person and spread it around. This makes the gossipers feel better about themselves, but that feeling does not last long.
It’s addictive. Gossip circulates all around us, and it’s easier to speak negative things about others than it is to speak good things. Gossip attracts cliques of people and here’s why: it creates social bonds between others who share social dislikes. We enjoy connecting with others who share our likes and dislikes. We seemingly expend more emotional energy talking about our dislikes than our likes because it’s like venting; we allow ourselves to release our negative emotions. We don’t always have the most confidence in ourselves or our abilities, so spreading negative lies about others becomes addictive because it makes us feel like we’re better, more talented, and smarter than those we gossip about…and that’s what we want: superiority.
THERE ARE MULTIPLE MODES OF GOSSIP
Listening to gossip can be just as harmful as spreading it. If you eagerly listen to slander with a hungry ear but not spread anything, you will still be guilty of gossip. When the lies you’ve hear begin to float around in your head, they end up clouding your judgment about what you think of the “gossipees” (those who are gossiped about). This is especially harmful if someone is gossiping about your friends or family members. And eventually, if you keep holding on to those senseless rumors in your mind, they will eventually spill out if you’re not careful, thus giving in to the act of gossiping.
Social media is full of gossip. Social sites like Facebook and Twitter are swarming with gossip bugs who seek and find rumors to create, “like,” and share. Because social media sites wear freedom of speech like a form-fitting glove, both ethical and malicious people have a voice. And unfortunately, more slander is spread online than uplifting encouragement.
Tabloid media such as weekly magazines, gossip websites, and some entertainment news programs are, perhaps, built on gossip. These media inject celebrity gossip into our heads making us feel like we can identify with them. This is another reason gossip is addictive because many people want to identify with these Hollywood residents on a personal level! Tabloid media gives us the quickest access to gossip because it’s found everywhere: grocery store waiting lines, television, word of mouth, and nowadays at our fingertips. Although tabloid media lurks from nearly every corner, it is very unhealthy for us to indulge in it.
HOW TO GOSSIP LESS?
Don’t listen to it. The best way to avoid spreading gossip is to avoid feeding your mind with it. If you’re adamant about letting go of this habit, do what you can to cleanse yourself and your atmosphere of gossip. Log out of social media; turn off the television when the entertainment news comes on if you watch only for the latest gossip; spend less time with those who gossip about others. Another great tip is to let others know that you don’t like gossip. They will respect you for that and share less gossip with you. Even if they don’t, just walk away when the gossip party begins. Developing this habit will build a distaste for gossip, and you will no longer have the urge to speak or spread slander about others.
If you absolutely cannot stop gossiping, try to spread positive gossip. Instead of slandering people, try using your gift of communication to edify, motivate, and compliment them.