What is it about gossip that draws us in? I recently got caught up in the gossip mill myself, and I’m still kicking myself over it.
I wasn’t born yesterday. I know better. Gossip and bad behavior, apparently, has no age limit.
It’s not just me. I know that. We all run on gossip. Some of it is “real” news and it helps us. But much of it is just plain hearsay. Information regurgitated from one source to the next. Or – worse – we filter what we hear through our own imperfect prejudices and experiences. Like a huge game of Telephone. (In case you’re not familiar with the party game of Telephone, click here for how it’s played. It’s a classic example of how differently we all interpret what we hear others say.)
Not to blame everything on the internet but, while it’s improved communication, it’s also done a too-good job of improving our gossip skills. We’re more addicted to gossip than ever.
Someone posts a copy of an unflattering letter they received from their mother-in-law. Or an embarrassing photo makes it online, taken at a wedding. A mother, angry with the way her child was treated, makes a public statement.
Case in point: Remember the guy that made a video of destroying his daughters computer? As a way of punishment for what she’d posted? These things go viral because we all love to gossip. We can actually get very worked up over events and comments that don’t even concern us!
It’s not all bad. Gossip, I mean. We learn a great deal from these things. Avoid future mistakes, do good things for ourselves and others, etc. Laws are created and securities tightened as a result of gossip. Plus, some of those things are funny, light-hearted, and make our days brighter and more joyful.
We can’t stop gossip either. It’s in our nature. We’re always curious about what the other person is doing.
Nor is it just a human trait. We’re not the only ones. Take any dog into a room that holds 10 people and one other canine, and what do the dogs do? They make a beeline for each other. They may not even get along (and then you have a dogfight!), but the gist is… dogs are just as curious about other dogs as people are curious about other people.
Why is that? Did God design His creatures this way as a protection for us? Is it an instinctive urge to band together? Safety in numbers?
Whatever. I’ll leave that to the professionals to theorize over. The main thing that disturbs me today, as I write this, is how destructively gossip can be used. Like those fighting dogs, we all have an opinion on someone else’s business and, sometimes, we just can’t stop ourselves from putting our two cents in.
That’s what I did. I caused trouble. I stirred the pot. I opened my mouth and let my lower brain rule my behavior before my good sense kicked in.
The damn thing is, once you sink to that reptilian-brain level of behavior, you can’t go backwards and undo the words. Like water passing under the bridge, it’s already gone.
I apologized to the person involved. I gave penance to God. I’m publicly declaring myself an idiot on my own blog.
But I’m still kicking myself.
Hubby tells me that God has long since forgiven me this sin. HE knew I was going to do it before I ever did. This should be a comfort – and in a sense it is – I’m happy to know that in heaven I won’t have to pay for this sin again and again. But I’m not God. It’s more difficult for me to forgive myself than for Him to forgive me. Human arrogance, I suppose, that I expect better of myself than I actually am.
Which takes us to the subject of: just exactly how do we forgive ourselves from the mistakes we’ve made in our lives? We all have regrets. This whole subject of “forgiveness of self” impacts our health, our relationships, our spiritual life, and our happiness.
But, that’s a post for another time.