The Wagging Tongue

Wendy Porter-Ouellet By Wendy Porter-Ouellet, 28th May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Mind & Spirit>Mental Health

Gossip, rumours, or any of the other names it is known by is a very commonplace activity for many people, everywhere. What is it and who does it? Where do we encounter this form of bullying and abuse? Probably anywhere, at anytime, by many. I provide some information on this subject, giving my own take on it.

Gossip, Rumours, What Are They?

What is the first thing that pops into your head when you hear the words gossip and rumour? Is there a specific word or phrase that flashes through your mind, or a feeling evoked within you? Rumour and gossip can certainly mean something different to each individual, including myself, which I will share later. The actual meaning of rumour, according to Oxford Dictionary is;
Noun - A currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth. (rumour has it that he is married).
Verb - To be circulated as an unverified account. (it is rumoured he drives a volkswagon)

There it is, plain and simple, not difficult to understand. Even if a person never looked this word up in a dictionary, I am quite sure most folks would know what it means since gossip and rumour have existed from the earliest days of mankind, in one form or another.

The word gossip comes from Old English, godsibb, from god and sibb, the term for the godparents of someone's child, or, the parents of someone's godchild, often very close friends. During the 1500s, the word "gossip" assumed the meaning of "a person, generally a woman, one who derives pleasure in idle chatter" - a newsmonger, or a tattler.

At the start of the 1800s, the term was extended from "the talker" to "the actual conversation of such persons". The verb "to gossip", meaning "to be a gossip", first appeared in Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors. The term also has roots in "the bedroom" at the time of childbirth in days gone by. Giving birth was generally a ladies-only event, when a pregnant woman's family and neighbours would congregate and as in most social gatherings there was lots of chattering; where the term "gossip" came to mean "talk of others". Quite the history this little word harbours.

Does Gender Play a Role?

In regard to where gossip seems to have originated, and with whom, women, does this suggest it is, or was, a purely female activity? I can't say for sure but my guess would be no, based on personal experience, what I've read, seen and heard over the years. Some women I know claim that men are much bigger gossips than we are. I am on the fence about this one but if I had to choose men or women as the leader in the gossip-arena, my vote would have to go to the female race, even if it's by a slim margin only.

When Does Gossip Begin?

As early as elementary school gossip and rumours quite often rear their ugly heads, with children whispering and giggling about a classmate who wears clothes from Good Will, or a girl who picks her nose, or any of the numerous hurtful remarks their childish minds can conjure. As children grow toward adulthood their capacity for creating and spewing gossip and rumours grows right along with them, providing them with the ability to make their victims feel self-conscious, lowering their self-esteem and even causing them to isolate themselves.

High school can be a nightmare for some young people, when the gossip-mongers choose a victim and use them for target practice, causing serious and sometimes long-lasting damage. An example might be a girl who is said to be sleeping-around. That type of untrue, malicious gossip can ruin her reputation, cause her to withdraw from social outings, or worse, much worse. It is situations like this that can drive a person over the edge, and in the most extreme cases, in taking their own lives.

Where Do Gossips Lurk?

Are there specific places where gossip occurs? Certain groups of people who enjoy spreading rumours? Maybe the question should be "Is there any place or any group where gossip doesn't occur? In this day and age I think you would be hard-pressed to find such a place or such a group. That is so disheartening but sadly it is also true. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that everyone everywhere gossips or spreads rumours, I'm just saying that it is widespread and more common than it should be.

As for the places and groups where you're apt to encounter gossip - where should I begin? First of all, it would seem that gossip is most common among individuals who are in frequent contact with each other and also more prevalent wherever groups remain together, for example, prisons, psychiatric hospitals, assisted living facilities, military barracks, Navy ships and submarines, school and college dorms, sorority and fraternity houses, summer and training camps. In groups such as these, gossip may bond friendships and boost morale. People who are frequent sources of "insider information" may gain a special status as leaders, quite appealing to some people.

Other areas where gossip and rumours may flourish are employee staff and dining rooms, hotels, hospitals, parks and playgrounds where parents, nannies and babysitters gather, conventions of any group (bartenders, cosmeticians, concierges, educators), but certainly not limited to any of these.

Perhaps one of the most popular targets of the gossip and rumour mills are celebrities - Brad, Angelina and Jennifer, Lindsay Lohan, the Kardashian clan - to name just a few. Why are we so enamoured with them? Why do we give them so much of our precious time? Despite the fact that we don't know them (even though some people think they do), and they certainly don't know who we are, there is a definite attraction, lure, sometimes an obsession that keeps reeling us in for more, we can't get enough. Are we simply hard-wired to worship these stars, or at the very least, to gossip about them? Magazines, reality shows, books, blogs - there seems to be no end to where we can lap up information about our favourite celebs. Could it be that we can live vicariously through these well-known people, since their lives appear to be much more exciting, lavish, interesting than ours? Is it merely common interest, something to talk about?

What To Think

And what, if anything, does the bible have to say about the subject of gossip? Lots. As for precisely how many verses it contains, I don't know, I didn't count them, but trust me, you will find many scripture verses about the subject. Those who employ the bible as their moral compass can turn to many books there, including, Proverbs, Corinthians, Leviticus, Jeremiah and Psalms, to name a few, and find what they're looking for. One example is "Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered." Wise words, ancient words, but every bit as applicable today in the 21st century.

Whatever flavour gossip comes in, be it slander, dishing, backbiting, rumours, whispered innuendos, not-really-joking jokes, planting seeds or got-this-all-wrong gossip, it all tastes the same - foul. It hurts. It tarnishes careers. It destroys reputations and lives. Gossip is a form of bullying and abuse, serving no worthy purpose, containing no virtue, no value. Some may argue that there is a difference between gossip and discussion, and perhaps they're right, but it could also be the splitting of hairs. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. As for me... I am definitely guilty of participating in both speaking gossip and listening to gossip (that counts too), a fact I am most assuredly ashamed to admit but I must. As I've grown older and hopefully to some degree, wiser, I try my utmost best to curtail the wagging of my tongue and also of being a willing and eager listener. I have witnessed and felt the damage gossip can do and it never feels good or right.

Take a moment to think before you speak or listen to gossip next time, for everyone's benefit.


Gossip, Low Self-Esteem, Mental Health, Rumours

Meet the author

author avatar Wendy Porter-Ouellet
Introducing, Wendy Ouellet, a young-at-heart woman who is a wife, a mother of four incredible kids, a former education assistant and now a stay-at-home writer. Many interests, skills and expertise.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
30th May 2013 (#)

I have heard that gossip is a form of bonding for women, but of course malicious gossip is something different

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author avatar Lady Aiyanna
31st May 2013 (#)

Well I know I personally steer clear from gossip and prefer going God rather than the sip with error of life.
Gossip is detrimental to well being and I never partake in such conversations unless I am armed with proof or expressly summoned to chair the discussion for input.

As they say the tongue has no bone and men gossip too and I have heard it first hand through an undisconnected cell phone call that highlighted some of the filth men talk too.
Men are worse than women, trust me on this but are bigger actors and liars if they mean disrespect to another.
I like the Beta men who cry in the corner and prefer staying away from being a romeo/playboy as these are the characters who share gossip over a smoke or drink and same seen with characterless women.

Gossip is the Chinese Whisper of life. Wherein some of it is true but most of it is a lie as the tales are blown out of proportion before being displayed. If its backed by proof, its authentic and with eye witnesses even better but gossips have none of it unless it is a personal account dramatised by the third party.

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author avatar Kingwell
31st May 2013 (#)

Thank you for sharing this. Gossip deserves a place just below murder.

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author avatar Oscar Crawford Media
1st Jun 2013 (#)

A good expose' on the two. Where I experience the reception and perception of either of both, there is no gender exclusivity.

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