Sunday, September 24, 2006

Idle Gossip or Malicious Slander?

I hate blog post titles that contain a question mark. They're a sure sign of an amateur. But I'm looking for your comments here. Please respond, my lovelies.

D. and I were talking the other day, speculating, as girls do, about a mutual friend's love life, home life, work life and life life as follows:

--Why doesn't B. have a boyfriend?

--She must put men off with that attitude of hers. Plus, remember her last boyfriend? She's probably off men for good reason.

--I wonder what she would think if she could hear us right now. Oh man, would we be in trouble.

--Why? Everybody talks about everybody else. You should hear what she says about you.

Oops. That was me saying the last line above. Idiot. D. then turned the spotlight on me and our friendship with each other.

--What do you mean? What were you and B. saying about me? Do you always talk about me?

I had to think fast to cover over this one and move it in a direction that wouldn't make me look so bad.

--Oh c'mon, D. We've had this conversation before. People always gossip about each other. It's not even about you--it's just human nature to talk about each other. It's some tribal instinct to ensure the survival of the species. Why do you even care what people say about you?

--Because I want to know. Wouldn't you just love to be a fly on the wall and hear what people really say about you when you're not around?

--Oh god no, that would be horrible. I don't want to know. What's the point? I'd just get more self-obsessed than I already am.

So, dear readers, what do you say? Do you want to know what people say about you or don't you? Do friends talk about each other out of love and affection or malice aforethought? Idle gossip or malicious slander?


Anonymous said...

"I hate blog post titles that contain a question mark. They're a sure sign of an amateur."


Put those claws back in girl!

It depends on the people who are saying stuff about me. If it's someone who's opinion I value, I'd like to know. If it's someone I don't care for, I don't care to hear their comments!

Anonymous said...

It's not necessarily idle gossip or malicious slander. It can be helpful to talk things over with a mutual friend when you are concerned about someone's attitude or behavior.

It can also be a constructive way to dissipate negative feelings you may have about someone close to you. For example, I have a friend who is always late when we arrange to meet. I've asked him to be more punctual, and I even factor in his lateness, but it's still annoying. Rather than bear a grudge, or take some kind of petty revenge, I criticize his poor time-keeping with a mutual friend, and get over it.

I also believe it's useful for men to gossip. In the olden days men used to say what was on their mind and then fight about it. Nowadays we're more civilized, and gossip provides a useful function in the prevention of violence.

If we didn't talk about people behind their backs, we'd be pent-up bags of rage, ticking away, drawing ever closer to that moment the straw breaks the camel's back and we go postal.

GossAnon said...

'anonymous' chooses the lesser of 2 evils but fails to recognise the flaw in this kind of thinking. Rather than becoming "pent-up bags of rage" because we refrain from "talking about people behind their backs" a more constructive solution would be to learn how to actually talk with them directly. What a concept! Sounds like 'anonymous' has her own issues with confronting friends in a constructive manner...Also, if you can't say it directly to the person, then chances are its NOT constructive. And by the way, criticizing your tardy friend with someone else , IS "some kind of petty revenge." All of this hardly sounds like "concern about someone's behavior."
All that aside, I have no problem with people gossiping about me, so long as I don't have to hear it. But I do have a problem with my own gossiping, which ends up making me feel petty and small-minded.

Leela said...

I like posts that contain question marks, myself. But NO, I definitely don't want to know what others are saying about me when I'm not there! It might even be worse than what I fear they're saying!

There's a great phrase attributed to the Buddha: "The jungle of opinion". I think what others say about us falls into that category, for the most part. So is most of what we say about eachother. That doesn't stop me from saying it. I try to be careful but don't always succeed.

Catherine Weaver said...

When Mia Farrow dragged poor Woody Allen out into the bright lights of male-bashing scorn, and his trial for child abuse began, I realized something about a person's reputation. It's not really THEIRS.

We say "my reputation" but really our reputation is in the hands of everyone BUT us.

So I really don't want to know what other people think about me. I try to live like I don't care.

It's a good way to be since I'm sure it gives everybody a lot more to talk about!

lisanne said...

I think it's idle gossip..i don't care if people talk about me...and as anonymous said, it can also about concern, I don't get angry over lateness and things like that...if someone is late all the time and it bothers me, i would probrably say something like "could you be on time cause last time i sat alone in that bar for 45 minutes and i almost left" To complain about it to other people just makes you sound like an whiner.

Malicious slander to me is when someone wrongly accuses one of somthing to a group of people and not to the actual person and then has everyone else believing it. That's when the "say it to my face" thing is order...but when it's about who they are dating's fine within someone that just got out of a very gossipable sort of relationship (ever take in and ex-con?)I basically assumed that I was being gossiped about but it didn't effect me...HE effected me!