How to Deal with Gossip

Introduction

I look back to my first marriage and the problems I faced, https://sues.life/2021/02/13/a-marriage-without-love/ and one of the things I remember, is particularly troubling. I remember the gossip and false rumors that flew about.

The Spectrum of Gossip

So, what do I mean by ‘gossip’ on the spectrum of discussions about other people? It is very close to slander in its strict, legal sense. In Investopedia, I found a handy definition of slander as “the legal term for the act of harming a person’s reputation by telling one or more other people, something that is untrue and damaging about that person.” https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/slander.asp.

Gossip also, in my book, is incomplete and factually inaccurate talk with clear goals in mind. Gossip is really about spreading malicious rumors or lies about people. Worse still the rumors are of those, who aren’t in the public eye. Politicians or celebrities are examples of people in the public eye. I would also, extend the definition of ‘people in the public eye’, to include wildly famous people in any field. These people put themselves out there to get attention and recognition for themselves.

Awareness of Rumors or Gossip

At first, I was barely aware of the malicious and inaccurate aspects of the gossip, about my first marriage. This was because I was socially confined. The family socially isolated me and muzzled me a lot more than other women my age. I wasn’t allowed to have freedoms that others had. My awareness grew over time.

I really appreciated those who wanted to reach out even when I was unable to speak, because the abuse was deep and raw. I also realized that many people were afraid to speak to me but I am grateful that they didn’t opt to participate in the ugly rumor mill. No matter what, people remaining considerate, helped me.

Being Respectful

If someone is experiencing a personal crisis, we need to be respectful of their problems. If a party confides in us, what should we do? We should remember that other people’s confidences are not ours to share with others and spread. Especially if someone is private and reserved, remember that this person doesn’t go out of their way to seek attention and so they deserve privacy.

Secondly, this person is probably hurting a lot inside and circumstances have driven them to confide in us. If he/she is not prone to gossiping about others on a regular basis, do they deserve for us to to talk about them? Even if a person doesn’t confide in us, their prior actions and demeanor should be deserving of some consideration. So remember, if the gossip mill is churning, it is our choice to perpetuate falsehoods, cloaked in the ‘juicy’ details, or be discreet and respectful.

Harming Innocents

There were some people around my abusive marriage, in the minority, however, who insisted on spending time weaving giant webs of rumor that grew and took in lies and falsehoods. You see, gossip, because it is embellished with unclear information and lies, harms innocent parties too.

I have always been very introspective in the face of attacks. My now-husband has sought to fiercely protect me and shield me from unjustified smears from any source. He speaks truthfully and honestly against anyone who verbally or emotionally attacks me.

But, the fact is that I know I need to call out abusers and liars, myself.

Reputation

My reputation has always been important for me and my career, especially as I am a woman and a minority. I am a Person of Color (“POC”).

All my life, I have had to prove I was good enough. My status as a minority female has been with me since the day I was born. The fact remains that it is much harder to get and retain a job as a minority woman.

When I keep silent about injustice, I allow my reputation and my standing in the world, to be ruined. I was once an abused wife and then a single mother. And I took inspiration from other single mothers and realized then, that I couldn’t hold down a job if my reputation was ruined. Workplace gossip is particularly inflammatory to reputations.

I often think of the faces of my hungry children all those years ago. That is why I vowed at that time, to do everything I could to prevent anyone from spreading damaging falsehoods about me. It was a matter of my professional survival. For me and my children. For my livelihood.

Those who behave like they don’t care how much they harm a POC’s reputation probably had everything handed to them from the day they were born. Or worse, they enjoy watching the harm being done.

Meeting a Die-Hard Gossip

So what do I do now when I meet a gossip, someone who specializes in ruining reputations? After all, they can come across as positively friendly. I take a step back. The key is to keep my distance. I refuse to be privy to ruining someone else’s life. The person targeted by the gossip might seriously be having a hard time and hasn’t harmed anyone.

A gossip doesn’t necessarily discriminate against one piece of gossip as opposed to another. He/ she, as the case may be, will spread any lie that gets him or her the attention. And popularity. And glory.

The serial, compulsive gossip, worse still, is manipulative. Sometimes, these gossips cause trouble to someone they don’t care about and then spread falsehoods about that same person. They can also be downright wicked. They want to benefit from someone else’s suffering.

Find Your Voice

In my post ‘Find Your Voice’ https://sues.life/2020/08/09/find-your-voice/, I talked about our need to speak up. The purpose of this is to drown out voices that have selfish and even worse, hateful agendas.

In fact, in deciding to become a writer and especially on this site, I wanted to also speak my truth. I wanted to talk about where I am coming from. I wanted to campaign against people who derive a warped pleasure from the misery of others. These people derive great joy from ruining lives and reputations, even of those who do not seek the limelight, people who are trying to get by. People like I was, once.

Truth-Speakers

That is why we should always be mindful of speaking the truth because we don’t want to delight in ruining lives and reputations. Gossip in all its forms, destroys lives and does untold, irreparable damage.

People have very odd ways of deciding who they want to trust and who they think are the oracles of truth. Within my personal experience, I find that the real truth-tellers are those who are discreet when it comes to talking about people, private citizens. Truth-tellers have no need to spread falsehoods to find self-worth. They certainly aren’t the ones who spend hours just talking about others. They are more interested in talking about facts, issues and the big picture.

Conclusion

I am of the opinion that the birthplace and origin of ‘fake news’ and misinformation campaigns, is laid squarely at the feet of serial gossips. We are all responsible for the society we live in. How we deal with gossip and rumors, will in turn determine how we endure and grow as communities and societies.

That is why I choose, as far as it is within my control, not to be a gossip nor to entertain gossips.

woman in white long sleeve shirt
Two women in a room sharing a juicy piece of gossip
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels.com

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