But I have to talk about it. It bothers me so much that I need to tell someone. As we go through life, people are bound to upset us, and we feel wronged. When you are wronged, is it OK to gossip? Before we can answer that question first, we have to decide if gossip is good or bad and what is the definition of gossip. Or what is the true meaning of gossip?
You tell your story to someone else and another, and before you know it, 4 or 5 people know what someone did to you. But you do it as therapy for yourself. You have to get it all out! It’s not really gossip, or is it?
Excuses, excuses, excuses! No, it’s not therapy but a way to get confirmation that what that person did really was wrong and you are right. Is it a form of gossip? But they hurt you!
GUILTY! Yes, I am guilty. Through the years, I did this very thing. I have talked to others about the injustice a person has done to me. At the time, I knew I was wrong, but I did it anyway. Does this sound familiar to you? Are you guilty also?
I have given the subject of gossip a lot of thought. I want to talk about what gossip is and share my thoughts with you so that my mistake is your gain, and we both learn from it.
What Is The Definition Of Gossip?
What does gossip really mean, and is it a good or bad thing to do? Without researching this subject, I would have said gossip bad, but my views have changed slightly.
A study published by Frontiers In Psychology states gossip can be a positive or negative social function although it has a negative reputation. This study’s findings say that the negative reputation is not correct. People who participated in the study say they gossip to give information. The study says that a person with a dark personality may use gossip to make themselves look better.
Informational Gossip vs Malicious Gossip-Good Or Bad
Gossip as a form of informational communication would go like this: If I told my neighbor that the family down the street were moving, that would be gossip. But it would be in the form of passing on information.
Now, on the other hand, if I told my neighbor that the family down the street were moving because they can’t get along with anyone and then went into all the things I knew about them, including malicious hearsay, that would be harmful. Gossip such as this are words that will cause pain to another.
Why Do We Gossip?
Gossip is the act of talking about someone behind their back. Gossip can be harmless if it is information you are passing on. But when it is hurtful to another, there are reasons you gossip.
- Insecurity-a person will gossip in a group because they are insecure and want to be accepted. They believe if they share juicy information about someone else, the group will be interested, and they will become a part of that group. That’s not always true. If you talk about someone in a crowd, others in that group may not trust that you are not also talking about them behind their back.
- Need to vent-If you are hurt by another; you may feel the need to get that incident off your chest. This type of gossip is not always bad unless you tell more than one or two other people. The venting then becomes malicious behavior and causes pain to a person.
- A need to share information-if someone harmed us we feel a need to tell others to protect them.
Is Gossip Therapeutic?
Another study published in Science Daily stated, “when we observe someone behave in an immoral way, we get frustrated,” Willer said. “But being able to communicate this information to others could help make us feel better.”
They determined this by monitoring the heart rate of a group of participants. When they witnessed a person behaving badly, their heart rate went up. But when they told others to protect them, their heart rate calmed.
So does this mean it is OK to gossip? Let’s look closer at this. If you saw a person treating someone bad and told others so you can protect them, it is not considered bad. But if you felt mistreated because they hurt your feelings, so you told others, is this the same?
I don’t believe it is. That person who hurt your feelings may not have had intentions to do so. So when you tell a bunch of people about it, then you are feeding your own insecurities. You want to feel better.
What Is The Right Way To Deal With Your Hurt?
First of all it is important to recognize why you feel hurt or why you feel a need to share information.
- Did someone hurt you on purpose?
- Did they break your trust?
- Are you overly sensitive?
- Is it something this person would do to harm another?
- Do you need to vindicate yourself?
If they harm you on purpose and do the same to harm another, then telling others will protect them from undue pain. They will avoid that person and not be harmed by them. This is therapeutic gossip.
If they did not mean to hurt you and you are a bit sensitive about the subject, it would hurt them if they find out you talked behind their backs.
On the other hand, if they broke your trust, you may feel sad or hurt and feel a need to vindicate yourself. You may want to tell others so they can validate your feelings.
Talking through the situation with one or two friends to help you sort out your feelings is therapeutic. But when you talk to more than a couple of people, you are no longer healing but rather making excuses for your gossip.
Gossip will harm another and cause them pain when you run around telling everyone what a bad person they are because they hurt your feelings. You most likely didn’t want to hurt someone. You just wanted to talk, feel better and see if others thought you were justified in feeling hurt.
All of the communication and passing on information we discussed here are forms of gossip. When that gossip is informational without harm, it is social gossip. When it is to protect another from a bad person, then it is protective gossip. When your gossip is to work through an issue telling only one or two other people, it is therapeutic. But, when your words are cruel and harmful to another, it is malicious gossip.
Remember that gossip is not all bad unless it harms another. And those times in my life that I have talked to many people about what someone did to me to hurt my feelings was malicious gossip.
The lesson I learned here today is: If it is not nice, don’t say it at all. When gossip is used to work through an issue, reword it, so the words are not malicious and only speak of it to one or two others. Don’t intentionally hurt someone because someone hurt your feelings.