I've been thinking about gossip lately. I thought I'd go to Answers.com to find out what gossip means: rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature; a person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts; trivial, chatty talk or writing.
Writing as gossip? Synonyms are: backbiting, blab, tattle, scuttlebutt, talebearer, taleteller. Another synonym is: noise.
Here's what some folks said about gossip:
Oscar Wilde: "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."
Barbara Walters: "Show me someone who never gossips, and I will show you someone who is not interested in people."
Rebecca West: "Everyone realizes that one can believe little of what people say about each other. But it is not so widely realized that even less can one trust what people say about themselves."
Eleanor Roosevelt: "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."
Gossip in Islam:
Islam considers backbiting the equivalent of eating the flesh of one's dead brother. Backbiting about somebody harms that person without offering any chance of defense for the victim; just as a dead person cannot mount a defense if one were to eat his flesh.
Gossip in Christianity:
Christianity condemns all kinds of gossip. The Epistle to the Romans associates gossips ("backbiters") with a list of sins including sexual immorality and with murder.
Other remarks (is it gossip?) about gossip:
"It is used as a form of passive aggression, as a tool to isolate and harm others."
"A feminist definition of gossip presents it as a way of talking between women, intimate in style, personal and domestic in scope and setting, a female cultural event which springs from and perpetuates the restrictions of the female role, but also gives the comfort of validation."
Wow. Well, I agree with all of the above. I think my favorite is Rebecca West's statement:
"Everyone realizes that one can believe little of what people say about each other. But it is not so widely realized that even less can one trust what people say about themselves."
This makes me want to be very quiet. I used to tell everybody everything. Not so anymore. I think that's a good thing and a bad thing. I never liked too many secrets because I grew up in what I'd call, "what you don't know will hurt you." But now I'm not so interested in knowing everything. Hmmm. I just looked at that sentence again. I don't know if it's true. I do like to know a lot. So much of fiction writing is based on secrets. "Too much information." Don't we say that often now. Is that too much information for you? When people go on for about thirty minutes about their dream last night or letting you know how their digestive system is operating today. I'm one who enjoys those monologues, for the most part.
I'm of many minds about gossip. But maybe I should consider more carefully what I say. And the listener. Some people (myself included at times) cannot keep a secret. "If I tell you, please promise me you won't tell anyone this." "I promise." And then it's published in the San Francisco Chronicle.
A friend of mine once said, "I never loan anyone money unless I can afford to give it away."
I think that's how I will now view telling anyone anything. Can I afford to give this away? But what exactly is this this?
Living is like running from a burning house. Did Camus say that?
Did you hear about what Camus did?
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