General Etiquette > Life...in general

When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?

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SamiHami:
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!

citadelle:
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:
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:
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!

YummyMummy66:
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.

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