rebelling against low expectations

What is gossip?


ERICA WRITES: This question may seem quite simple to answer but I still haven’t got my head around it. What exactly is gossiping?

I’ve had a few conversations with my friends about whether saying bad or untrue things about someone is gossiping or if gossip is just simply talking about someone behind their back. I still haven’t received a solid answer.

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  • Yay, first comment! Unfortunately, however, I can’t think of anything worthwhile to say…

    See, gossip is often like that: talking not because we have something to say, but because we have to say something. And I think it can be replaced only by real, meaningful communication.

    Sorry, that’s all I’ve got to offer at the moment.

  • I would say that gossip is saying things that are not for sure or unconfirmed about other people without their consent, with no real or good intentions or purpose. For example, two teenage girls could gossip about how they think other person A likes other person B. Maybe this isn’t bad, but it’s still gossip because they don’t know for sure whether person A likes person B. It could, however, turn into something bad, if the two girls spread word all over school of what they thought, and Persons A and B were embarrassed.

    Hopefully this might be helpful!

  • Gossip is “bearing false witness” like the ninth (#?) Commandment tells us not to do. “Let no perverse speach be among you, but only the which is good for the building up of the church, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each one.” Hope this helps!

  • The Afrikaners of South Africa have a saying about gossip; they will tell you (in Afrikaans) that “Gossip is saying something behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t say in front of them.” The problem with their definition is this loophole: some of them are quite bold and have dominant personalities and then they gossip about someone behind their back and say, “It’s not gossip because I would say it in front of them too!” But they don’t say it in front of them.

    I like Mr. Mitchell’s definition: “Sinful gossip is bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart,” because sometimes as someone in a leadership position you have to be honest with your supervisor about the shortcomings of someone on your team. In this case, you may share something “bad” about the person, but not out of a bad heart; perhaps out of duty or out of an attempt to help that person overcome a certain weakness or bad habit.

    Two years ago I was part of a small but intense prayer group. We shared different shortcomings of our friends with each other but we did that because we three then joined together in earnest prayer for each of the friends we mentioned, and we prayed that God’s will would be done in their lives. And we saw answers to many of those prayers. We were ‘behind their back’ because they declined the invitation to join our prayer group, and we shared ‘bad things about them’ from time to time, but for no other intent than to pray for them. That being said, I think much gossip has been spread under the banner of “prayer requests” by people who don’t really have a prayer life.

    • Obviously, this must be done in humility; recognizing one’s own faults and shortcomings before God and not just focusing on those of others in a prideful mindset.

    • That is sadly true, it’s become very normal for people to request prayer just so they can gossip about whoever they’re talking about. 🙁

  • Hi Erica! So, a lot of people think that gossip is just talking about someone behind their back, but it’s a little bit more than that. Gossip is taking what someone said to you (most likely in confidence) and you either twisted the story to make it sound how you want it to, or you just tell people about it, even when they obviously didn’t want you to. Like someone mentioned already, It’s “bearing false witness” against someone, which is something that the Bible is very clear that we are not to do. So, it’s actually more than just talking about someone behind their back. I could get really into a description, but I’m not going to, so, if you’re looking to avoid it, just watch what you say, and make sure that you aren’t putting people down, (even if it isn’t false) because we are told to lift each other up, so just be careful how you speak, and make sure that everything that comes out of your mouth glorifies God.

  • So, people often say gossip is saying something about someone that you wouldn’t say to their face. I would add that it’s not gossip if it’s for trying to help you love them better etc.

  • This might seem like a crazy idea, but I think it’s also possible for people to gossip about themselves. When we talk incessantly about ourselves and our feelings, it can become little more than meaningless gossip. Just a thought…

    • While I agree that it is vain like gossip I am not sure that the facts that talking incessantly about oneself is vain and gossip is vain necessarily lead to the conclusion that talking about oneself is gossip.
      Men are mortal, and Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal, however, though oranges are a fruit, and apples are a fruit, apples are not oranges.

      • Thanks for your logic. 🙂 You’re totally right: there is a difference. What I meant in my earlier comment is that while there may be an apparent difference in the symptoms (i.e. talking about yourself or talking about others), the underlying causes and motivations are the same. While talking about yourself may not be technically classified as gossip, I mentioned it because I thought it might be an indication of the same emotional problem. When we feel insecure, arrogant, or empty, we often resort to aimless talking. And, as far as the talker is concerned, it doesn’t really matter who the conversation is about.

        Make sense? (I often struggle to communicate my thoughts clearly on Disqus, and sometimes I seem to make myself a target for misinterpretation.)

  • Hi Erica!

    Great question!!! In my opinion, I believe that both of your theories are correct. The dictionary says that gossiping is a “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”.

    One time, I had gossiped unintentionally and it really hurt me. I also realized that a lot of gossip took place at an event that I participated in and I thought, “I wonder if they know what they’re doing…”. What I had said was that I thought this one girl was EXTREMELY snippy and my best friend of all time revealed after I made the remark that this snippy girl was her friend. I immediately felt SO ASHAMED of my words. I hurt my best friend and myself. So that is an example of what form gossiping comes in. And I think that it might be the most common but I do not know. I think @youngorganist99:disqus really pointed out a not so well known gossiping habit of us human beings as well.

    I hope my comment helps you in some way and I also hope that all of these other WONDERFUL comments help you too.

    God Bless,

  • *haven’t read all the comments* Gossip is when you are talking negatively about any person behind their back unnecessarily… By unnecessarily I mean that sometimes we have to bring up someone’s faults to another person because we need help or advice on what to do in a situation. It’s really about our hearts. Am I just looking at my friend saying, “Oh my gosh…look at that GUY! he is SO ugly and yada yada yada…” or even, “ugh…this person is SOO annoying! All they ever do is talk about this or that and oh man! have you heard their laugh??” THOSE thing are gossip and wrong…and my heart is not one of trying to bring closure to a situation or fix a problem, but to degrade someone else. But if I go to a friend and say, “Hey, I’m really struggling with this friend right now, she’s doing this adn this to me and I know you’ve been through this before; I was just needing some advice on what to do. I love my friend and I want our friendship to stay entact, I just don’t know what to do”. THAT is NOT gossip! you’re expressing a negative, yes; but your goal is a positive one! Does this make sense? and does it help?

  • My youth group went over this topic in small groups recently. My group came to the conclusion that gossip is when you talk about someone or someone’s circumstance with a lack of honor. Talking about someone when their not there is not always a bad thing. If you said to a friend “So and so is a really great person blah blah blah” theres nothing wrong with that. You’re still honoring them. It only becomes gossip when you speak without honor. Honor is just respecting someone’s thoughts, decisions and everything about them. As Christians we should honor everyone we meet and come in to contact with, even if they do annoy us or don’t make the best decisions. Humans mess up sometimes but if we honor someone, we love them with the same love Christ loves us with.

  • I would say if you wouldn’t be okay with the person finding out that you said it, you probably shouldn’t say it.

  • Gossip I have always looked down on but I have realized that everyone has gossiped at least once in their life which is not good.Any time i catch myself talking wrong about someone I feel terrible. Then sometimes I go and apologize but when i don’t I always feel that it follows me everywhere and it just leaves me guilty.

  • I think that gossip is both say untrue or hurtful things behind someones back or saying true things it still isn’t right. I think of gossiping as getting into other peoples own life whether its who their crush is or what they got for a grade, if someone can hurt you in any way when they say those things whether its true or untrue and its behind your back I believe it’s gossip

  • In our house, we basically define gossip under this rule: if you won’t say it to their face, don’t say it at all. Now, we hardly abide by that rule, but it’s our definition of it. See Miranda’s comment for further details. 🙂

rebelling against low expectations

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