Gossip Girls – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Recently my daughter came home from school, explaining that a girl in her class was crying about a decision that didn’t work in her favour.
She told me that one of their mutual friends came up and asked her opinion..
Friend: “Do you think ‘crying girl’ should have been that upset?!”…(the suggestion was that she was overreacting and the delivery was inviting gossip).
My daughter: ” I don’t know, because I don’t know how she was feeling inside”. And then they moved on with their day.
Me: Pretty over the moon that my daughter didn’t engage in any judgement or gossip and rather suggested that empathy was required in this situation. If I sound proud, it’s because I am!
Now, I don’t mean to sound all judge-y about gossip because it’s not all black and white. I actually think there’s healthy gossip and not so healthy gossip and many complicated reasons why we do it. It’s a subject I talk to my kids about a lot. My daughter even admits it ‘feels good’ to gossip, and I totally know what she means. Statistics show that women spend five hours a day gossiping! That’s nuts!
Here’s he official definition of gossip as it appears in the Cambridge Dictionary:
conversation or reports about other people’s private lives that might be unkind, disapproving, or not true
Here’s my take on the good, the bad and the ugly of gossip for male, female and all ages …
When gossip can be healthy.
- When it helps us fit in with others. We all like the feeling that we belong somewhere.
- When we need to process our own experiences, seeking perspective on the matter by confiding in a friend.
- It can help us and children figure out peer group relationships, what’s going on with them, who they can trust.
- It can create a sense of intimacy.
- When we share we gain comfort, compassion, clarity, encouragement, truth and healing.
It’s important to recognise that even when gossip isn’t coming from a mean and nasty place, it can still easily hurt other people’s feelings.
When gossip hurts.
- Personal feelings of insecurity or low self-esteem can develop into the more harmful type of gossip.
- When gossip forms out of envy, hurt, confusion, and hatred.
- When the purpose of gossip is to make you feel better about your own life.
- When it harms reputations and feelings.
- When you’re sharing unflattering and judgemental information about someone.
- When you use it as a way to feel superior to others.
- When it leads to conflict.
A recent study in Pediatrics reveals that more teenage girls are suffering from depression than they have at any other point in history—and gossip being shared about them on social media is partly to blame.
How do we become gossipers?
- It’s a learned trait, our kids are watching and listening to us. Researchers note that parents who criticise others are more likely to raise aggressive teenagers who instigate fights with their peers and gossip about them.
- We hear our friends parents gossip.
- We hear older siblings and older kids do it.
- We see characters on TV shows engage in gossip.
- Our bodies release oxytocin, the pleasure hormone, when we gossip, so we seek out more.
Before you engage in gossip next time, ask yourself …’Why am I sharing this? What is my goal?’, and just by taking that moment you will be able to decide if it’s the good gossip or the bad kind. Ask your kids to do the same.