People love to have all of the facts. They hear a tidbit of information or half of a story and find it necessary to ask as many questions as possible in order to feel as though they have all of the details. Then they piece together the information that they have gathered, add in anything they feel is missing and share the “story” with others. Sadly, much of what they share is fiction, and that is how rumors and gossip are created.
Here’s a fact, MISINFORMATION + STORY-TELLING = GOSSIP
When word gets out about a couple who has separated or divorced, there is a sudden need for everyone (friends, strangers, neighbors, colleagues, etc.) to find out WHAT IS GOING ON.
When my ex-husband left me, I was amazed at how interesting I suddenly became to the general public.
It was as though I had become an instant Hollywood Star. People (not friends) were suddenly interested in my life and the details of the difficult issues that my daughters and I were facing. The questions that I was asked were intrusive, shocking and sometimes even funny. Some of my FAVORITES (not really) and most ridiculous questions that I was asked included; “Were you always unhappily married?” “Was it your choice or not?” “Did you fight hard enough to keep your marriage intact?” “Is there someone else?” “Why?” “Are you sad?” “How will you manage now?”
Those were some of the most frequently asked questions, and people actually expected and hoped that I would answer them all in full detail….. I would frequently find myself being asked questions (many of which I had no answer for), and wonder if the person asking had any concept of how intrusive and hurtful they were being.
I was grateful at the time (and still am) for family and close friends who allowed me to share my story on my own terms. Those who know me well will attest to the fact that I am private about my life, non-dramatic, and that I have no desire to be in the spotlight. But the questions and need for information left me feeling frustrated and confused. What was even worse was when I would hear a non-factual version of “MY STORY” that was circulating quietly.
Why do people feel the need to know everything all of the time?
Why is there such a focus on information collecting and sharing?
Human nature dictates that people need and want to feel connected to one another.
Perhaps this is why everyone feels that they are entitled to know everything all of the time….
If you hear a story or some gossip about someone else’s relationship troubles, you have a choice of what to do next. Before continuing the conversation or passing the story on to someone else, take a minute and ask yourself if you would want others sharing facts about your life. Then, WALK AWAY. You are not required to continue the gossip sharing! Gossip is hurtful! I think that it is so important to respect the privacy and boundaries of others, and by choosing to step away from the story-telling you may be able to help break the chain of gossip and misinformation – that’s a good thing!
So I truly think that all of us should share a common resolution for 2014. Wouldn’t it be great if we, as women, all agree to stop gossiping about each other.
Wouldn’t it be comforting to know that friends and strangers alike were choosing to put an end to story-telling and were instead focusing their energy on providing support to other women. Doesn’t it make sense to respect other people’s privacy.
I think we should make a conscious choice to walk away from gossip.
I know it will make a difference.