How bad is it to gossip? I’ve always felt that it was pretty bad. It’s not technically against the commandments, nor is it a cardinal sin, but it is decried in most religious texts and seems morally suspect. It also seems anti-feminist, not because we’re gossiping about women necessarily, but because gossiping is such a cliche thing for a girl to do. And I generally try to be better than that. I’ve been on the wrong side of bad gossip so I know how much it can hurt.

But after all this I must admit that I love to gossip. I love knowing secrets, and having the power to tell someone. I love taking the knowledge and putting it in my own words. I love the camaraderie it brings, when you both are in the inside.

I saw someone today who I hadn’t seen in a while, and I wanted so hard to gossip about her, but there’s something just as great about keeping good gossip to yourself. Even when the facts are correct, and it’s something I would feel comfortable saying to the gossippee’s face, you can tell when it’s news, and when it’s gossip, and there doesn’t seem to be a right way to do it. I don’t consider myself a gossip, but in the company of certain people (high school friends especially) I can get carried away. I’ll try to keep resisting this urge, even if the action gives me pleasure, since it does seem particularly vile and hurtful.

I memorized this sonnet in high school (I didn’t want one about love), seems applicable;

‘Tis better to be vile than vile esteem’d,
When not to be receives reproach of being;
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deem’d
Not by our feeling, but by others’ seeing:
For why should others’ false adulterate eyes
Give salutation to my sportive blood?
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
Which in their wills count bad what I think good?
No, I am that I am, and they that level
At my abuses reckon up their own:
I may be straight though they themselves be bevel;
By their rank thoughts, my deeds must not be shown;
Unless this general evil they maintain,
All men are bad and in their badness reign.

Sonnet 121 William Shakespeare

Talkin’ Bout my Generalizations

My mom and her husband keep talking about generalizations. When is it okay to generalize? Is it okay to make generalizations about people who come from a certain area (jingoism), wear certain clothes (classism usually) or have a certain shade of skin (racism)? What about people born on a certain day (astrology) or people of a certain personality type (enneagram, type a-b, love type etc.)? Can something be racist and also true? Do we learn more when we make generalizations or when we don’t?

I took an academic writing class where they talked about how there are only two academic theses: the first type says that things are simpler than they look, to generalize and say that everything fits into easy boxes, the second type of thesis says that things are more complex than they look and a previous author was missing some crucial piece of information when they made their generalization. My thesis was sort of the 1st type, in retrospect I think it should have been the 2nd. As humans I think we make generalizations on our own, generalizations are easy; what’s hard is dealing with a more complicated situation.

I think it’s important as a friend to keep others from oversimplifying [our friend], to continue to complicate how they’re perceived by others. It’s our job as friends to pay attention to detail, because we remember details of the things we care about, and by definition we care about our friends. I regret the times I told simplistic narratives for a complex friend. I felt hurt when my friends oversimplified me. You know the expression K.I.S.S.- Keep it simple, stupid? I say keep it complex, yes, convoluted ideas are hard to follow, and it takes a huge amount of skill to edit them down to their essence, but simple if simple is hard, complex is harder. Complexity makes us grow.