Friday, August 10, 2007

The Poison Irony of Gossip

Here we go again.

On a recurring and somewhat regular basis we have to deal with the fallout from random gossip.

I just took a phone call from a friend and she is upset at the Empress. You see, someone told our friend the Empress said our friend was a gossip and how she was going to stop making calls and instead wait for our friend to call us.

A couple of months ago The Empress received a call from a woman we know (at best) casually (I have no idea who she is, but the Empress says we met her at a party sometime somewhere). This woman was upset about what The Empress was saying about her. The Empress pointed out the nature of the relationship hardly allows one (both in terms of knowing something interesting to say about the other or even having the other come up in a conversation)to talk about each other. I have no idea if this is smoothed out or not but I hardly care.

In this latest episode, however, I do care. The person leveling the charges is a good friend and I want very much to preserve this friendship. The Empress is no gossip and when I told her about the phone call she denied it flat out. I asked our friend who she heard this tale from and to our friend's credit she refused to share (good) and our friend said the Empress would know.

Our friend kept insisting the source of the information is a close friend (of who was never told a close friend of her's or of the Empress or both?) and therefore it must be true.

Gossip contains quite at least a nugget of irony, doesn't it? Our friend hears gossip about herself that she knows is not true, but then assumes the gossiper gets the source correct.

One aspect of gossip and gossipers a friend observed is somewhat scary. Gossiper X calls you and starts unloading all of their (+@% onto you. You do not participate in the conversation and in fact nod along. Hmmm, okay, hmmm-hmmm, I see. The conversation ends and the gossiper gets things mixed up and all of a sudden the person they were just talking to becomes the source for some of their stories.

I remember years ago watching the 700 Club or something similar (it was a SA morning when I was not feeling well enough to get up and change the channel) and they had puppets going through the gossip cycle to demonstrate how it works and the harm it does. They catch-phase they used over and over was zip your lip to gossip.

Hear something juicy? Keep it to yourself don't even tell your spouse or significant other. Zip your lip to gossip.