Author Topic: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?  (Read 4892 times)

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Winterlight

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #30 on: December 22, 2012, 09:16:46 PM »
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 consider celebrity gossip harmless because I don't know them and am not likely to. For example, my friends and I discussing whether Lindsay Lohan looks terrible in a certain dress isn't going to affect Lindsay one way or the other.
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MariaE

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #31 on: December 23, 2012, 03:46:42 AM »
The rule of thumb I go by is "would the person in question mind that I told the person I'm talking to?" If not, then it's not gossip, if yes, then I'd better have an excellent reason (and they do exist) for not keeping my mouth shut.
 
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girlysprite

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #32 on: December 23, 2012, 03:47:58 AM »
The celeb gossip reminds me of a joke from a wife of a celeb: in the neighborhood where I grew up as a child lived a famous person. He is an excellent violist and got national and international fame for his renditions of the walzes from Strauss. My mother bumped into his wife at the supermarket while she was paging through gossip rags. She smiled and said 'I'm checking the state of my marriage here'. (ps: it was a real joke, there was nothing to worry about for her!)


As for what gossip is: it crosses the line of the general feel is 'let's share what a stupid/annoying/etc person X is'. So in short, if it becomes an exchange of negative opinions.

I must also say that sometimes it's very hard not to gossip. I used to work for a very bad and unproffesional boss. It was a situation we could not change; we couldn't change boss, and we were unable to find other jobs. So sometimes me and my coworkers did gossip behind his back, to relief tension and have a laugh. But it still wasn't a good thing to do.
So I have a questiom to add here for situations like this. If you are trapped in such a social situation in which gossip was a stress reliever, what other ways did you find to relieve the social stress, without using gossip?

Redsoil

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #33 on: December 23, 2012, 07:01:26 AM »
If, in speaking of others, you have that slightly uneasy feeling lurking, then I suspect it may be crossing into the realm of gossip.  Obviously, there will be times when conversation isn't all light and fluffy, but I tend to think mindfulness of what we're feeling as we talk can be as good a guide as any.
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Tea Drinker

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #34 on: December 23, 2012, 12:56:41 PM »
One of the guidelines I use is, Does this seem/feel malicious?

If I was pleased to hear bad news about someone, I would be very hesitant to pass it along, because I wouldn't trust my own motives there. That's the difference between "That [expletive]'s boyfriend just dumped her, good for him" and "So-and-so and her boyfriend broke up, I hope she's doing okay" or "so don't send an invitation addressed to both of them."

This is based partly on past experience: my social circle at one time included someone who would reliably pass along bad news, such as illnesses, deaths, and layoffs, but rarely shared good news. It made me not want to talk to him, because I got the feeling that he was just waiting for something bad to happen to me.
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Just Lori

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #35 on: December 23, 2012, 02:10:55 PM »
What if you walk right into some bad news? I ran into an acquaintance from our old church.  We had a wonderful couples class that we attended, but we had fallen out of touch with most of the people (this was before Facebook and other social media.)  I asked about some of our favorite people.  Tom and Sue were still doing great, renovating their house.  Bill and Sally's kids were in high school.  What about John and Mary?  Is John still working for the car shop?

Well, no, actually John was in prison for playing with the car shop's money.

This news was so surprising and so out-of-character for the John we knew.  My first thought was "What happened?" and my second was "How is Mary?"  The conversation wasn't about what an awful guy John was, it was about how sad I was to find out about the 10-year prison sentence and how it would affect Mary, who was then having to raise high school-aged children singlehandedly. I didn't tell anyone else (save for my husband, who also knew them), but I did think of them often, and I assume he's finished his sentence by now.

I suppose it was gossip to ask "what happened," but again, it was the last thing I expected to hear about John.

AllTheThings

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #36 on: December 26, 2012, 03:42:21 PM »
I must also say that sometimes it's very hard not to gossip. I used to work for a very bad and unproffesional boss. It was a situation we could not change; we couldn't change boss, and we were unable to find other jobs. So sometimes me and my coworkers did gossip behind his back, to relief tension and have a laugh. But it still wasn't a good thing to do.
So I have a questiom to add here for situations like this. If you are trapped in such a social situation in which gossip was a stress reliever, what other ways did you find to relieve the social stress, without using gossip?

I'm not sure there is anything else you can do. I think that in cases like this, gossiping isn't that bad, and can be very useful as a stress reliever. I don't think it is the same thing as talking about some innocent person and using their misfortunes as entertainment. I have a bad boss too, and we frequently talk about how awful she is behind her back and discuss what she has done because there is really nothing else to do about her. I think there is a big difference between maliciously talking about someone who never did anything to hurt you vs blowing off steam from the frustration of dealing with someone who is a jerk. After all, if my boss really does not want people to talk about her behind her back, she has the option to do her job properly.

NotTheNarcissist

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #37 on: December 26, 2012, 03:50:08 PM »
I have 2 heart checks to test myself to see if I am gossiping or about to gossip:

1) would I say it in front of the person?
2) what is my heart motive for sharing this I to? Why am I sharing it?

I'm not a gossiper & will leave if it starts.

Unfortunately my DH & his family love to gossip so I have to exit sometimes. Occasionally I'll point it out but not often because frankly they don't care.

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #38 on: December 26, 2012, 04:34:06 PM »
The "Would I Say This in Front of the Person" is a good test.

I do feel that there is such a thing as Useful gossip.  Just recently, one of my clerks transferred to another office.  When the new manager asked for some insight, in addition to listing her strengths and weaknesses, I specifically mentioned that the clerk is an aunt to another branch manager, just as an FYI.  Not in a mean way, but just so the other manager would be aware.  And the other manager did thank me for the info.  You don't want to say something in passing that could really blow up in your face.
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SamiHami

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #39 on: December 26, 2012, 04:46:20 PM »
What if you walk right into some bad news? I ran into an acquaintance from our old church.  We had a wonderful couples class that we attended, but we had fallen out of touch with most of the people (this was before Facebook and other social media.)  I asked about some of our favorite people.  Tom and Sue were still doing great, renovating their house.  Bill and Sally's kids were in high school.  What about John and Mary?  Is John still working for the car shop?

Well, no, actually John was in prison for playing with the car shop's money.

This news was so surprising and so out-of-character for the John we knew.  My first thought was "What happened?" and my second was "How is Mary?"  The conversation wasn't about what an awful guy John was, it was about how sad I was to find out about the 10-year prison sentence and how it would affect Mary, who was then having to raise high school-aged children singlehandedly. I didn't tell anyone else (save for my husband, who also knew them), but I did think of them often, and I assume he's finished his sentence by now.

I suppose it was gossip to ask "what happened," but again, it was the last thing I expected to hear about John.

I think it's okay here; I wouldn't classify that as gossip. Inquiring about an old friend is normal conversation. Reacting to shocking news is not gossip. And asking normal follow up questions ("what happened? How is Mary?") doesn't feel wrong to me either.

Actually, the only questionable thing is the person passing the info along to you. I still don't think it necessarily feels like gossip, though. You asked a general question about some old friends and he passed on the information to you (I am assuming he didn't use a conspiratorial tone or giggle or otherwise act ugly about it while telling you), then I think you asked a legitimate question and he gave you a legitimate answer.

Using the logic posted by others, I'm guessing that while Mary is unhappy about this situation, she likely wouldn't mind that you asked about her well being in light of this sad news.

So, for this instance, I'd say not gossip.

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Devix

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #40 on: December 26, 2012, 04:57:16 PM »
I always thought the Socrates "Test of 3" joke was a good guideline for gossip.  I know it's just a silly joke but the foundation is sound and I think that if you are having doubts whether you're gossiping or not you really should see if the bit of news you want to share passes the three tests.

1.  Truthfulness:  Have you made absolutely sure that the news you are about to tell this person is 100% true?
2.  Goodness:  Is this news you want to share about someone else good?
3.  Usefulness:  Is the news you want to share about someone else useful?

I think you need to hit at least two of the three to get a better gauge of what's gossip and what isn't.

MerryCat

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #41 on: December 27, 2012, 12:29:54 AM »
I agree with the "would you say this in front of someone else" test too. So, it's okay for your friend to mention that a mutual acquaintance is getting divorced, if this is general knowledge. But it would be gossip if the conversation then degenerated into the lurid details of whose fault it was, and who did what to whom, etc.

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #42 on: December 27, 2012, 09:35:05 AM »
Over the last two years where I work, some people that I knew fairly well have been suspended and then fired.  Did I want to know why?  Oh, yes, because these were people I also respected and trusted.  First of all, I want to know that my judgement was not off: the person did not do anything illegal.  And then, if it was for a bad decision/poor judgement, I would like to know so that I can avoid that mistake.

And I would ask the persons if I were to meet them in person: What happened?  I have such respect for you that I cannot fathom what could have gotten you fired.
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Winterlight

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #43 on: December 27, 2012, 10:20:47 AM »
What if you walk right into some bad news? I ran into an acquaintance from our old church.  We had a wonderful couples class that we attended, but we had fallen out of touch with most of the people (this was before Facebook and other social media.)  I asked about some of our favorite people.  Tom and Sue were still doing great, renovating their house.  Bill and Sally's kids were in high school.  What about John and Mary?  Is John still working for the car shop?

Well, no, actually John was in prison for playing with the car shop's money.

This news was so surprising and so out-of-character for the John we knew.  My first thought was "What happened?" and my second was "How is Mary?"  The conversation wasn't about what an awful guy John was, it was about how sad I was to find out about the 10-year prison sentence and how it would affect Mary, who was then having to raise high school-aged children singlehandedly. I didn't tell anyone else (save for my husband, who also knew them), but I did think of them often, and I assume he's finished his sentence by now.

I suppose it was gossip to ask "what happened," but again, it was the last thing I expected to hear about John.

I don't see this as gossip- it's legitimate catching up. Gossip would be going on and on about it and asking prying questions (how much money, did they arrest him at work, ect.)
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
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Lynn2000

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Re: When does chatting cross the line and become gossip?
« Reply #44 on: December 27, 2012, 06:27:40 PM »
I must also say that sometimes it's very hard not to gossip. I used to work for a very bad and unproffesional boss. It was a situation we could not change; we couldn't change boss, and we were unable to find other jobs. So sometimes me and my coworkers did gossip behind his back, to relief tension and have a laugh. But it still wasn't a good thing to do.
So I have a questiom to add here for situations like this. If you are trapped in such a social situation in which gossip was a stress reliever, what other ways did you find to relieve the social stress, without using gossip?

I'm not sure there is anything else you can do. I think that in cases like this, gossiping isn't that bad, and can be very useful as a stress reliever. I don't think it is the same thing as talking about some innocent person and using their misfortunes as entertainment. I have a bad boss too, and we frequently talk about how awful she is behind her back and discuss what she has done because there is really nothing else to do about her. I think there is a big difference between maliciously talking about someone who never did anything to hurt you vs blowing off steam from the frustration of dealing with someone who is a jerk. After all, if my boss really does not want people to talk about her behind her back, she has the option to do her job properly.

This is my position about the annoying co-worker I mentioned earlier. When people are forced to be together, like co-workers/bosses, and you can't just choose to drop them from your social circle, being able to commiserate with other people who feel the same way can be very helpful. Sometimes the line is blurry, though. My test is always primarily, is this true, and am I telling it truthfully (i.e., not exaggerating for comic effect in a way that mocks the person). If the story was, "You won't believe what Annoying Co-worker said to me today!" I felt that was okay. But if we got into speculating too much or making fun of things he couldn't help or things I at least didn't think were important (not important: wearing white socks with dark shoes; important: laughingly calling a random woman fat), that's when I think it would cross the line. For me it wasn't just about a single conversation, is it or isn't it gossip, but rather about the way I treated Annoying Co-worker in general. If telling someone else the annoying thing he'd said helped me relieve stress and therefore treat him in a more professional manner, I say that's a good thing. But I was very aware of becoming a hypocrite--saying something was great to his face and then turning around and mocking it to someone else, for example. I think that's bad.

It can be a very complex thing sometimes. But I don't believe that talking about something negative, especially if you actually witnessed it, is automatically bad or gossip. Even if I wouldn't want the subject of the conversation to overhear me.
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