So recently on my secondary school alumni Whatsapp group, someone posted a picture caption that said since people started wearing facemasks, the rate of gossip among women have reduced by 90%.
I am not sure if he knew (of course, it was a guy who posted it) that this was our topic of discussion this month but I replied ,saying the rate of discussion among men has reduced by 95%. That brought another guy to the defense saying that at least , it is discussions men have . Well this was falling into my bait and intent to which I replied – men’s discussion = gossip .
I knew that would not go down well with everybody but what I was just trying to pass across is that gossip is not a gender specific vice.Both men and women gossip and no matter how much we know about the evils that can be perpetrated by it, we once in a while fall into the temptation .
I am hoping it is a once in a while slide into the temptation because it can be horrible when gossip becomes a way of life and of course,and I refer to it as temptation because something in all of us sometimes wants to know more than is available to other on-lookers and for some people, having this edge helps them to stir conversations in a way that shows their importance .
On a good day, I keep away from the business of people who are not my friends because firstly, it is a lot of energy even keeping up with the duties and joys of being a real friend and secondly, the possibility of knowing the whole story is slim and not knowing someone very well can make one judge them unfairly.
I have been on the brunt side of being gossiped about in my community and I tell you it was not a pleasant experience. Sometimes the blessedness of not being married is laden with the tendency for some people to believe somethings about you , especially when it looks like the most logical explanation. I remember once I was being accused of destroying someone’s home which was in trouble. Like every gossip, there was some truth in it.
The truth in it was that , yes the home was in trouble but portraying and making it seem like I was the cause seemed to be something that made the story juicier… After all, she is not married and may be having an affair with the man hence causing trouble in the home. I cannot tell you the many times I slept on my bed with my pillows wet with tears about the accusation and the tales.
It was not just hearing it, it was the way some people looked at me, treated me, never speaking a word, never asking for my side of the story and then trying to warn my friends about something that was absolutely untrue.In short at one time during this ordeal, a close friend said to me “Grace, I sued to believe there is no smoke without a fire but I have seen that it is not always true”. It was a time of learning for me and I am glad to say that now the dust has settled, the truth is obvious to all. According to another friend, “any one who does not want to come to a realization that all those banter were lies, the person is deceiving themselves”
It was hard but I realized that when it comes to gossip, there is no need to go about trying to defend yourself or set the records straight.People will believe what they want to believe. Some people will change their minds with time. Most malicious gossips will usually be spread by people who do not know you and in the sphere of things, they really do not matter.
One of the things I learnt is that the soil of gossip is fertilized by several things. Firstly, some people are only passing on what they have heard without bothering to check the facts because secretly they are jealous of you .Another reason may be because of a previous offence which may or may not be resolved and then thirdly, some people are just insecure in themselves , so spreading gossip and letting others know that you are not all that they think you are brings them some sort of satisfaction .Fourthly, some people are just idle and passed along the chatter without really thinking things through and have gone with the flow ,especially when they are in a company of friends.
Apart from acknowledging that I have sometimes slipped and fallen into idle talk and gossip sometimes, understanding the various reasons above helped me to be able to exercise forgiveness towards the person who started the rumour and the several others who so happily spread it.
As tempting as gossip can be sometimes, we can all make a choice to say No. We can do this by checking the next time we want to pick up the phone to share a story or sometimes. before we forward a post on our WhatsApp group to determine to check the veracity of the story .
Although the pandemic has meant some of us have more time in our hands, we should strive to use it constructively. Sometimes I must admit that gossip just falls into our laps without us asking for it and even in those moments, we should resist the temptation of recounting the story. Understanding that we are all a work in progress with absolutely nothing new under the sun should help us put on the brakes whenever the wheel of gossip comes around.
I believe another way to prevent falling into a pattern of gossip is to watch our circle of friends and acquaintances. There are some people I have personally not allowed to become my close friends because in almost all our interactions , they have always had something to say about other people’s business.
If you have ever participated in Chinese whispers game, you must have seen how the original statement gets changed as it moves from one person to the other. Gossip is like that, people add and subtract as the story is being passed on and unlike Chinese whispers which we can all laugh about at the end of the game, gossip usually brings tears to the person being gossiped about .
I am watching myself daily on this so that I do not allow idle chatter cause sorrow to someone else, I hope you do the same.