With gossip, harmful effects are a given. The thing is, everyone does it – myself including. We don't necessarily mean to be hurtful, but the fact remains that there are some very harmful effects of gossip. I'm not going to say never, ever do it again – it's human nature, it happens. However, as women we really need to stand up for one another rather than tearing each other down. Maybe if we think about what we're doing before spreading that rumor, sharing that story, or divulging that less than flattering opinion of someone else, we can recognize that it's coming from a place of insecurity, jealousy, or pain in ourselves. Don't get me wrong, I need to do the same thing – and I bet a lot of you can benefit knowing the most important reasons not to gossip, as well.
One of the most harmful effects of gossip is that it will come back to haunt you. If you're gossiping about someone else, you can rest assured that, at some point, someone will also gossip about you. It might even be the same people with whom you're sharing rumors. It's always important to treat others the way you want to be treated – that's a cliche for a reason: it's true. You might think you're just talking about something innocuous and unimportant, but think about this: would the person you're gossiping about think it's not important?
Ultimately, gossiping will isolate you. People will still talk to you and you'll still have friends, certainly. However, you'll be known as That Girl – The Gossip. You'll carry that mark like a scarlet letter – a big, red G, in this case. Gossiping reflects badly on you, even if you don't realize it. Your besties may secretly resent you, or your boss may hear of your actions. Think to yourself about someone you know who gossips a lot – how do others feeling about him or her?
Adding into that is the fact that no one is going to trust you. Again, people will still talk to you, people will still be friends with you, but they might hold you at arm's length because with gossip, harmful effects are sometimes quiet, silent, occurring just beneath the surface. Even your best friends might hesitate before sharing anything serious with you, especially if they fear you'll gossip about it. Coworkers and family members may also stop themselves before telling you anything they fear might become fodder for rumors or gossip.
One of the worst effects of gossip is the pain it causes others. If you've ever been the target of gossip and untrue rumors, you know how hurtful it is. Whether something is true or not, knowing that people are discussing it like it's funny or interesting or any of their business is awful. You feel embarrassed, humiliated, and ashamed, even if you've done nothing to be ashamed of in the first place. We gossip about people because they make different choices than we do, or because they do things with which we don't agree – but is that really fair? Put yourself in their place, and remember a time when you've been hurt by gossip.
Have you every shared something that you promised not to talk about, just because it's funny or weird or unbelievable? I'm ashamed to say, I've started a lot of sentences with the phrase, “Keep this a secret, I promised not to tell, but...” Have you? Gossiping leads to broken promises, even if that isn't your intention. Quite often, you end up spreading gossip about someone you really love, someone very close to you, just because it makes a good story.
As a result of that, you can easily lose your integrity. That's a really harmful effect of gossip, because your integrity is incredibly important. If you do become known as That Girl, you lose it, piece by piece. Once it's gone, in a way, you have nothing left – people definitely won't trust you then, they'll certainly be hurt by your actions, and those you love may even have difficulty believing anything you say. They won't want to share the details of their lives for sure. After all, they may feel that anything they tell you will get spread around anyway.
Frequently, gossip spreads lies. Maybe it doesn't start out that way, but many times, a story gets exaggerated entirely out of proportion. Then again, it might involve a lie in the first place. By gossiping about it and spreading the rumor along, you're perpetuating those lies. In essence, you're lying as well, which ultimately leads to many of the harmful effects already listed. If you've ever been lied about and then watched the ensuing rumor spread like wildfire, you know how awful it feels. Do you really want to do that to someone else?
When it comes to gossip, harmful effects are natural – they're there, regardless of the subject or the nature of the gossip. The thing is, gossip isn't always totally bad –it passes along information, and it really is human nature; we use it to vent our feelings, after all, and to get out our frustrations. You just have to remember that whether you're talking about a colleague, a frenemy, or even a celebrity, you're talking about a living, breathing person, trying to live life just like you. Try not to be malicious or catty, even if you feel like you have a really good reason to do so. It's just bad karma, and the person you're targeting could have real, painful problems. Basically, when you're venting, try your best not to do damage. In your opinion, what are the worst effects of gossip? If you know why you do it, share that too. When I gossip, sometimes I'm trying to be funny, other times I'm trying to commiserate with the person I'm talking to, and still other times, it really is because I'm feeling insecure. Now it's your turn.
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