Why are we so drawn to scandal? The juicy details of another’s private life provide us with such entertainment……until we become the topic of discussion, then it’s not so fun.
We learn to ‘embellish’ at a very young age, probably because it gets a better reaction to our story, and the more we draw the interest of our audience, the better we get at embellishing. Eventually we have no idea what the facts are because typically gossip is second hand news and each messenger adds to the story until eventually there’s little truth, if any, remaining in the tale.
Gossip is the mainstay of the office watercooler and lunchroom crowd. Who’s having marital issues? Who’s secretly bulimic? Who’s pregnant? (or maybe just pudgy) Gossip is typically about private things, the things people don’t want to openly discuss, and it is often true. (who doesn’t have something to hide?) Rumour, on the other hand is pure speculation, often having no purpose other than to ‘entertain’. (get a book, get a hobby, get a life, get whatever it takes to get off the rumour mill)
I recall a party game we played when I was young called ‘telephone’. We’d sit in a circle and one person whispers a phrase in the ear of the person beside them. They then pass along the phrase, as they heard it, to the next in the circle until all have received the message, and I was always amazed at how distorted the message was by the end of the line. Sometimes it was a matter of mis-hearing the message, but more likely it was embellishment because distorting the message was what made it fun.
Gossip, in its’ truest form isn’t fun. It’s hurtful and insensitive, and exposes the vulnerability of a fellow human being. Rumour is just mean and borders on bullying, and I think it’s safe to assume that no one wants to be the topic either so next time someone tries to pass along a juicy tibit to you, shrug and change the subject. Make it clear you’re not interested. If you appear disinterested you disarm the gossip and effectively stop the trail of rumour. You also put them in a place of self reflection (that hopefully shames them) and good for you…. you will never regret taking this higher road.
Here’s to stopping the rumour mill!