Okay everyone chill out — if you think this blog post is an outlet for me to preach about why we shouldn’t gossip or sh*t talk, you are wrong. I do not believe I have that sort of authority… let alone faith in humanity for everyone and their brother to stop sh*t talking just because I, an amateur blogger, said so. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand why we do it, and why we shouldn’t care so much when others talk behind our backs. I’d like to shed light on 5 truths about sh*t-talking that might get overlooked as we engage in this behavior like clockwork.
1. Everyone does it.
I don’t think I’ve been close with a single person who hasn’t spoken negatively behind someone’s back. Unless you practice monastic silence, you talk sh*t! Sure, maybe it’s something you actively try to avoid. However, when John Smith sent you that passive-aggressive email and cc’d your manager, I bet my stimulus check that you wanted to rant to someone about it, and when you did, I’m sure you didn’t have nice things to say. Don’t flatter yourself. We’re all human.
2. People talk about you.
Are you the one sending the passive-aggressive emails? Do you have an annoying mannerism? Does your breath smell alright? Are you lazy? The list of flaws goes on, my friend. The good news is that no one is perfect, including the people talking about you.
3. The more you put yourself out there the more people will talk about you.
If you haven’t sent a screenshot making fun of something someone posted on social media, have you really lived? It’s even better when you screenshot the argumentative comments following the original post. Every time I publish a blog post, I run the risk of people taking screenshots and talking about all of the content I share. I used to care, and truthfully, in the past, this fear prevented me from sharing my thoughts. However, as I get older, I care less about what other people say and more about being the most authentic version of myself.
4. Talking negatively about others is a means for people to validate their definition of what is right.
Most people have an undying need to be right. Thus, when they see someone make a choice that goes against their definition of what is right, they like to discuss it to see if others agree with their perspective. In many cases, listeners agree with the gossipers, either because they actually agree, or they don’t feel like arguing. Either way, the gossipers receive the desired validation, making the act of gossiping rather addicting.
5. Kindness kills gossip.
There is only one healthy way I can think of that might prevent people from gossiping about you, and that is kindness. Many people feel badly talking sh*t about genuinely kind people. Even if you are weird, gossipers are more likely to talk about the rude weird person than the kind weird person. Although we shouldn’t be kind simply out of the fear of people gossiping behind our backs, I do beleive treating others with kindness is a painless way to live, that gives people one less thing to talk about.
I believe if we engage in gossip, we should not be upset if others gossip about us. It takes some deeper self-reflection to realize that we get what we give, and karma is a b*tch. If we can let go of our own insecurities, we have the potential to kill two birds with one stone:
1) We won’t feel as much of an impulse to talk negatively about others.
2) It will not hurt as much when people talk negatively about us.
Again, I am not trying to change the world or bash those who need to rant about their mother-in-law over a glass wine. In short, we are all driving along on our own scenic routes. We should never let the harsh words of others force us to slam on our breaks, and we should have the confidence to move forward without the need to demean other people’s navigational skills.