I am an open book. You really want to know what’s going on with ME, I’ll tell you. I suck, suck, suck at secrets. I excel at spilling my guts. My aversion to malicious secrets, crappy communication and double-dealing is so strong that it’s directly contributed to the former-ness of some former relationships.
Conversely, I respect sensitive stuff and am happy being where the buck stops. There is a difference, though. I respect when someone needs to have a good rant, or get advice. But, tell me something nasty and mean about someone else just for the sake of denigrating them and I turn cold. People who talk trash about others are saying the exact same things about me to other people. I would rather avoid having that as a part of my life. People who are in such pain that they only feel better by belittling others are people I’d rather avoid. It’s sticky, it smells and that crap stains. Life is too short to willingly subject myself to that kind of psychic vampirism.
And yet, I am guilty of gossip. It’s painful to admit this about myself, but I’ve done it. I can spout garbage. Not with the best of them, but I can still spout it. Most often, it’s as a coping mechanism when dealing with others who are talking trash. Sometimes it’s easier to give a little nod of comradery while I’m trying to figure out how to get out of the room and never see them again. I do have a stopping point where the muck that I rake coats me with so much slime that the auto-stop kicks in. But, I still do it on occasion.
Why do we do that? What drives us to solicit and spread that kind of meanness? Insecurity? I believe that’s a big “Bingo!” It’s integral to what I’ve read about spreading maliciousness. Mean gossip and the like is a way of elevating yourself by denigrating others. It’s sadder for the person who’s spreading it than our targets.
We all do it. Some people live it. It’s usually a continual dribble of denigration. It’s subtle and manipulative. Rarely is it a full-blown rant. It’s that ooze seeping out of people’s pores. Insidious and sad.
Susan Scot Fry
Update… Apparently, this topic struck some people quite strongly. The comments I received on Facebook were overwhelmingly supportive and ranged from “yes, I agree” to “thanks for the reminder”. But, one comment did bring to surface a problem I have – or have had in the past. I don’t actively cut off the negative flow in most situations. I just don’t add to it and try to get away from that person as quickly as possible. Why don’t I speak up? What’s holding me back?