Author Topic: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?  (Read 4814 times)

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SamiHami

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When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« on: December 21, 2012, 10:22:50 AM »
How do you know when chatting turns into gossip? Of course there are times when it is abundantly obvious when it is gossip, but I'm talking about less obvious situations.

Some examples:

-My DH met a friend for a drink at a local bar. While he was there he witnessed a couple that we know (but are not friends with) being told they were banned from that establishment, as they have a long history of getting drunk and belligerent with other patrons (which DH and I have both witnessed in the past).

Is my DH relaying this story to me gossip, or is it just conversation about something he saw that is of interest since we both know the couple involved?

Is it gossip if I tell other people that know this couple about it?

-A good friend and part of our broader social circle moved out of state a few months ago. We keep in touch with phone calls, emails and Facebook. She is always interested in what's going on with "the gang," and since I am the only one she keeps in regular contact with, she often asks.

I get that it's probably not gossip if I tell her that Joe got a new job/got promoted/got fired or Linda broke her leg. But is it gossip if I tell her that Jeannie's boyfriend broke up with her because she cheated on him? This is info that she would have anyway if she had not moved.

Is it okay to talk about things that are non-controversial (like job changes or births, engagements, etc.) but not about things that might not show people in their best light, such as the couple being banned, even if it is entirely true?

I guess what I'm wondering is where does the line get drawn between passing along information/making conversation and just plain gossiping. Does it make a difference if it's just between me and my husband and no one else?

***NOTE***
I am not asking this because I am a terrible gossip! I admit I am probably as bad as anyone else, but I am trying to become a better person and I know that gossip is a negative thing. I just am trying to figure out where friendly passing on info ends and gossip begins, so I can avoid going over that line!

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citadelle

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2012, 10:37:40 AM »
Interesting question. For me, the concept of schadenfreude is the line. If I am relaying information that causes me or the listener to feel pleasure from someone else's misfortune, then the information is gossip.

mj

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2012, 10:38:42 AM »
I was always taught that it crosses the line when you wouldn't say it in front of the person in question.  So if the friend who moved away wanted to know about the break up, I would go with it ended, and not on good terms -- rather than give details.

As far as the incident your husband saw, it would be ok in my book if he told you, his wife but not ok to tell others. 

SamiHami

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2012, 10:41:53 AM »
Even if it is 100% true and you have reason to be interested (as in it involving people that you know)? I'm not saying that I take pleasure in other peoples' unhappiness or misfortune, but is it still gossip if you have a legitimate interest in it, even if you think the person deserved it for some reason?

I don't think I'm wording that as well as I would like; I hope you get what I'm trying to say here!

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YummyMummy66

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2012, 10:42:14 AM »
Your dh telling you is not gossip.   My dh and I discuss/talk about almost everything, but that info. never gets shared with anyone else.

You telling other people is gossip and in this case, no matter who asks, no matter who knows the couple, it is mean gossip.

SamiHami

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2012, 10:43:23 AM »
I was always taught that it crosses the line when you wouldn't say it in front of the person in question.   So if the friend who moved away wanted to know about the break up, I would go with it ended, and not on good terms -- rather than give details.

As far as the incident your husband saw, it would be ok in my book if he told you, his wife but not ok to tell others.

Now that is an interesting way of looking at it; that might be a very good rule of thumb.

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SamiHami

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2012, 10:47:00 AM »
And another question, on a broader scale-

I personally like going to a celebrity gossip site online. Would that be considered crossing a line, or is it okay because it's regarding people who choose to live their lives as public figures? I enjoy seeing stories about celebrity fashions at award shows, which I'm sure is okay, but I also read stories about celebs that go into rehab or have tantrums on the set, etc.

Does that make a difference?

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Yvaine

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2012, 10:59:49 AM »
And another question, on a broader scale-

I personally like going to a celebrity gossip site online. Would that be considered crossing a line, or is it okay because it's regarding people who choose to live their lives as public figures? I enjoy seeing stories about celebrity fashions at award shows, which I'm sure is okay, but I also read stories about celebs that go into rehab or have tantrums on the set, etc.

Does that make a difference?

I do think some celebrity gossip falls into the "nasty" category, but with celebs it's hard to tell what's being "packaged" intentionally to get publicity. I think at least some celeb romantic dramas, diets, catfights, etc., are "canned" for our consumption. It's hard to say how much. It began at least as long ago as Old Hollywood where whole fake romances would be invented to sell an upcoming movie--they might put out that the actor and actress fell in love making the movie even if the actor was actually secretly gay, for example. And then in other cases, of course, it would happen for real.

I do think that when people go into showbiz, it's with the understanding that these kinds of stories will appear. It's not necessarily "right" that people will voyeuristically watch their lives, but it's impossible to live in our culture and not realize it will happen. And I do think some of the stories are, if not fake, at least intentionally publicized to add to the celeb's "brand."

JenJay

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2012, 11:11:16 AM »
Interesting question. For me, the concept of schadenfreude is the line. If I am relaying information that causes me or the listener to feel pleasure from someone else's misfortune, then the information is gossip.

Yes, and I would add that if I'd feel embarrassed if the person I was speaking about quietly walked up behind me and heard what I was saying, then it's gossip.

mj

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2012, 11:15:55 AM »
It's hard to know with celebrity gossip, a lot of celebrities release their own "scandal" and/or invite paparrazi to "catch" them in one. 

Flora Louise

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2012, 11:18:43 AM »
Congratulations on a very useful and universally interesting thread, SamiHami.

You made me start to wonder what would happen if I made it a point to say flattering things about people behind their backs? Could I change the world?
Just because you're disappointed in me doesn't mean I did anything wrong.

CreteGirl

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2012, 11:38:40 AM »
I was always taught that it crosses the line when you wouldn't say it in front of the person in question.  So if the friend who moved away wanted to know about the break up, I would go with it ended, and not on good terms -- rather than give details.

As far as the incident your husband saw, it would be ok in my book if he told you, his wife but not ok to tell others.

This, exactly.

SamiHami

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2012, 12:37:38 PM »
Congratulations on a very useful and universally interesting thread, SamiHami.

You made me start to wonder what would happen if I made it a point to say flattering things about people behind their backs? Could I change the world?

Thanks! I am really trying hard to improve myself, to be a better person. I know I'm better now than when I was younger, but I am feeling a strong need to do what I can to be my best. I don't know; maybe it's age catching up with me, or maybe I'm just realizing what I've know all along. I just know that the past three years have been awful and I have turned into someone I wouldn't want to spend time with. So, I'm going to be better and I am going to make next year a good one for myself and for as many others as I can.

I like your idea of saying nice things about people behind their backs. I think when I have the urge to gossip about someone I will say something complimentary about that person instead. That would be a really good way to replace gossip with good karma instead. I like that idea a lot! Thanks for the idea!

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Adelaide

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2012, 01:02:43 PM »
“Before you speak, think: Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it kind? Will it hurt anyone? Will it improve on the silence?”  -Sri Sathya Sai Baba

oopsie

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2012, 02:53:17 PM »
I was always taught that it crosses the line when you wouldn't say it in front of the person in question.  So if the friend who moved away wanted to know about the break up, I would go with it ended, and not on good terms -- rather than give details.

As far as the incident your husband saw, it would be ok in my book if he told you, his wife but not ok to tell others.

I agree with this.