When I was just thirteen years old my friend Michelle and I stood in line at the counter of a clothing store. Little did either of us realise we were about to be taught a very valuable life lesson…
“Did you hear about Stacey?” Michelle asked. “She had to leave school ‘cause she got pregnant so her mum’s sending her down south ‘till the baby’s born.” I can’t recall my response but I know I would have been shocked. Michelle gave me the ins and outs of who the father was and how angry her parents were. As soon as the woman in front of us made her purchase she turned to Michelle and me and said, “I know who you’re talking about and you need to get your facts right before you spread ridiculous gossip about anyone else.” This stranger came to the defense of a victim of gossip. She wasn’t loud, she didn’t make a big thing of it, she simply put us in our place, well me at least. Ever since that day I have refrained from gossiping. If I don’t hear it first-hand then I don’t want to hear it.
Where am I going with this? Well earlier this week I found that I was the topic of gossip. Waiting to collect my youngest from outside the school, one of the other mums, let’s call her Cheryl, approached me and asked if I was okay. According to Cheryl, I have been struggling within the throes of severe depression, unable to cope with life and barely functioning. As she uttered each word, I couldn’t help but notice the level of delight Cheryl took in telling me all about my health. She was gossiping to me about me! Cheryl had been waffling on for a minute or so when my child came out and we hugged.
“I don’t know where you get your misinformation but you’d be doing a really awesome thing if you stop listening to and sharing gossip.
Cheryl wasn’t concerned for my mental health and wellbeing; she was like a kid with a new game who couldn’t wait to show it off. “I’ve got something you don’t have!” or “I know something you don’t know!” Why do we (not everyone) love gossip? What’s the point? There’s a difference between passing on facts and being a link in the gossip chain. If you don’t know for sure and you hear it on the grapevine, please, assume it’s untrue. Cheryl didn’t ask if what she heard about me was factual, she didn’t want to know. I just happened to be the subject of her verbal diarrhoea on that particular day.
So readers, here’s a challenge; the next time someone offers you a seemingly irresistible piece of gossip, say “No thank you! I don’t want to be a link in your gossip chain.” It may not be easy but I promise you it will be worthwhile.