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