When my kids were little, I made sure they knew there was a difference between tattling and telling. Tattling was bad. Tattling was telling on someone for the sole purpose of getting that person in trouble. It wasn’t making the world safer or more orderly or preventing a theft. Telling, on the other hand, could prevent an injury or damage to property or stop a bully. Don’t tattle. Do tell.
In the grownup world, I feel the same way about gossip. I have a whole diatribe in defense of gossip and, if you continue reading, you’re gonna hear it.
Let me start by saying that I’m a big fan of gossip. If you don’t have anything nice to say, sit right here by me. But not really. It depends why you’re not saying anything nice. If you’re just being mean or trying to stir up trouble, I don’t want to hear it. But if you’re giving me useful information, I’m all about it. Information = power.
It’s the same as the playground rules, only on a grownup scale. I appreciate being warned by trusted friends about the duplicitous nature of people I have to deal with. What kind of friend wouldn’t give me a heads up that I might be lied to? If my friend has been wounded, it’s my job to comfort her, and I can’t do that without knowing the source of the injury. It’s better, in a morally relativistic world, that I hear something bad about someone who has injured my friend than that I don’t have the right bandages with which to stop my friend’s metaphorical bleeding. That’s on the listening end.
On the telling end, it can also be like food poisoning. Think of the last time you ate something that made your tummy sad. That twisting gut feeling is horrible. But once you’ve purged the contents of your contaminated belly, you feel a whole lot better. Sometimes you just have to get the venom out in whatever way you can. Even if it involves profanity.
Of course, this all assumes that there’s a real purpose. Speculation isn’t kosher. Legitimate gossip has to be provably true. Maybe not objectively true from a neutral standpoint, but at least true from your perspective. Not what he said she said he said she said might have happened. Legitimate gossip doesn’t jump to conclusions or insist that other people share your opinions. It says, “Here’s what I know. Here’s how it makes me feel. Here’s what I think about it.” There’s no and therefore you in it. It’s flash therapy with a social element and possibly a margarita.
Legitimate gossip is not character assassination. It isn’t a sword to cut people down. It isn’t about anyone, really, except the person telling the story and their reaction to whatever happened. I can’t trust; I’ve been hurt; I’m surprised; I’m disgusted.
So there it is: my defense of gossip. Hopefully, I’ve persuaded you that it is a
legitimate way to pass useful information between trusted allies. That being said, tell me: What did you
hear? It sounds juicy.
 Though your friends usually do. That’s why they’re your friends.
If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori on Twitter or on Facebook or read her award winning books. Her newest book, a Foreword INDIES Gold Medal award winner, “If You Did What I Asked In The First Place” is currently available by clicking here.
Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.