Monday, January 3, 2011

Gossip (reprinted from The Concordian)

Back in October, I reprinted my "Ho-lloween" column I wrote in a 2009 issue of The Concordian. A lot of people told me they liked my columns from back then and I decided I would start reprinting more of them. Like a lot of things I decide to do, I never got around to doing it. Three months later and not a single column since has been reprinted. Well, that changes now.

I wrote this column in November of 2009. I had been hearing a lot of people at work (Pizza Hut) talk trash about each other. It made me wonder what people were saying about me.

I realized that there was no way to eliminate this problem. People are always going to talk about other people behind their backs. That's never going away. So, my point with this column was to appeal to the individual, to have that person make a conscious choice to not spread rumors and gossip. While the problem as a whole will never go away, maybe one or two people reading it would realize they were part of the problem and make an effort to correct themselves.

[Side note: click here to read the "Ho-lloween" column (as well as get a backstory on why my column was called "Communication Breakdown") and click here to read every story I wrote during the fall 2009 semester with The Concordian]

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Originally published Nov. 18, 2009; The Concordian, Concord University

By Chris Slater

Welcome to the latest edition of "Communication Breakdown." Let me break it down for you.

When I’m at work, I hear my fellow co-workers complain about each other. It’s usually something along the lines of, "I can't stand so-and-so," or "so-and-so is so stupid," or "can you believe what so-and-so did?" Things of that nature.

I noticed that I've heard complaints about every person at my place of employment, with the exception of one.

Me.

I have never heard anybody complain about me. Why? Because that would defeat the purpose of gossip and talking behind my back.

I've often wondered what people say behind my back about me. I try to think about what physical attributes they can make fun of, what weird quirks I have that people may not like, etc.

I can understand partaking in a little bit of gossip every now and then. It’s fun to know what somebody thinks of somebody else. It’s fun to know stuff about people.

Gossip is fun. But, it can be taken too far.

Throwing out big secrets of people is not cool. Same with starting rumors. It's just not something that should be done.

I was the victim of a rumor when I was in the seventh grade. I had a friend, Travis, that I hung out with all the time. The two of us would eat lunch together every day, and spend a lot of time together. We were close.

According to the rumor, we were very close. We were gay.

It really hurt that people were saying something about me that wasn’t true. I was angry and sad as a result, and that rumor really affected me for a while. So, I can understand how spreading a rumor can have a negative impact on people.

Gossip, when kept to a minimum and not turned into rumors, can be harmless fun. It too, though, can be bad. If somebody found out what you were saying about them, it could lead to hurt feelings, or an awkward confrontation. Your gossip can ruin the reputation of the person you’re talking about. If you tell me that "so-and-so" is terrible at his job, that’s going to make me think less of him.

How can you avoid gossip?

It's easy to not gossip. Just don’t say things about people. It’s much harder to not listen to gossip. I guess if you don't gossip as much, then people around you won’t either. It’s worth a try.

Although, it's doubtful that will work. Some people just love to "dish the dirt."

Gossip and rumors are something that will never go away. You can only stop the spread of rumors and gossip from one person - yourself.

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