I thought about this a few days ago and tried to make sense of it and this is what I came up with. As much as gossiping means engaging in conversation about other people’s lives that might be unkind, disapproving or untrue, I’m inclined to believe that there is good gossiping and bad gossiping. Now, not everyone may agree with me on this as the popular conception is that gossiping is entirely negative.
I told my sister last night about a lady who had breast cancer and survived it after a difficult battle. My sister did not know about this and I was saying it in line with her as a testimony among the many who cancer claimed which happened to include the life of a loved one of mine very recently. I wouldn’t call that bad gossiping as the point of it was to let my sister know of a mutual acquaintance who survived cancer as opposed to the tons of survivors we hear about but do not know personally. However, in a conversation about someone who lost his job for sexually harassing a female employee where the people talking are speculating if he actually did do it or not, citing instances of catching him looking at ladies’ ‘natural endowments’ and even verbalizing his lustful desires towards them.
In other words, they are basically saying that the reason for which he lost his job cannot be entirely false as he has shown tendencies to such in previous encounters with him. To me, that’s bad gossiping. A lot of people, of both sexes, talk about the opposite sex lustfully, but this doesn’t say that the man in question actually sexually harassed the said employee, although it does not categorically say otherwise. Why this to me is bad gossiping is because the intent of this gossip is to directly or indirectly incite people to at least consider, if not conclude, that the man actually committed the said harassment and so deserved the termination of his employment.
As explained above, my interpretation of bad or good gossiping is the intent behind the ‘gossip’. Is it to highlight someone’s good qualities or achievements? Is it to conclude the worst about or make a mockery of someone’s difficult time? Is it to incite jealousy in the other person? Is it to destroy someone’s reputation? Is it to compare someone’s action or decision with the action or decision that you would have taken in the same scenario i.e using that person as a moral compass? What is the intent behind your gossiping? Identify that today and you’ll know which side of the spectrum you fall into. Remember, whoever gossips with you today will gossip of you tomorrow.
Article by Soomto Ajanma