Idle gossip and minding your own business

In My Own Little World


I’ve heard it said that “If someone will talk to you about others, that they will talk to others about you.”

I think about this every time I hear other parties become overly chatty about their colleagues, neighbors, relatives, or friends. Weather the conversation is directed to me or said in my presence, either way, I often wonder, “Do you also talk about me when I’m not around? And why?”

Why do we even care enough about what other people are doing or not doing that we need to talk about it? I mean, don’t we already have enough to worry about? I know I do.

Granted, talking about others isn’t always done out of spite or with malicious intent. We are humans. We discuss the goings on in the lives of our fellow humans. We tend to have a genuine general interest in how the lives of the people around us grow and change. This is especially prominent in small southern towns. Like the obvious inquiries about who’s having a baby, who’s getting married, or who’s graduating from school.

We become personally ingrained into the intimate details of the lives of those around us. We learn their idiosyncrasies and become familiar with their personalities and personal habits. We become important active participants in each other’s lives. Many of us have a sincere and genuine concern for what happens in the lives of those around us. That’s what relationships are all about.

So where should the line be drawn from “showing concerns or interest in the lives of our neighbors” to “juicy gossip”? I dare to say that it is a fine and thin one.

“Did you hear what so and so got caught doing?”

“I heard so and so got arrested for doing such and such.”

“You know very well “those” aren’t real.”

We’ve all done it. Probably more than a few times.

The trick is to try not to do it again. And again. And again.

I try to ask myself five basic questions when I find myself discussing the lives of others:

• Is it true?

• Is it necessary?

• Is it kind?

• Does it, or will it have anything to do with me?

• Would I say it in their presence?

If the answer to even one of these questions is “no”, I reconsider my words. Usually.

Make no mistake, I’m just as guilty of contributing my own share if idle gossip as anyone else. We’ve all done it at some point or another. But I find that as I get older, I’m less and less concerned with who does what. Or to put it simply, I just do not care. I have so many more important things to worry about.

A few years ago, I realized that I needed to eliminate unnecessary, caustic relationships from my life. One particularly gossipy, and all around abrasive “friend”, had become fed up with my obvious avoidance of her and the cloud of drama that seemed to fester in her presence. She took it upon herself to call me out on it and tell me that I had become very self-absorbed and that I was a bad friend.

At first, I felt the pang of her words hit me like a ton of bricks in my gut. But in the very next instant, I realized that she was right. And I told her so, “You’re right,” I said. “I am self-absorbed. I learned how to mind my own business and tend to my own life. Maybe you should try it.”

I have never heard another catty bit of juicy gossip from her again, and my life has been sweeter for it.

That’s what it’s like in my own little world.

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Posted by on Aug 29 2014. Filed under Editorial Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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