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"I have something to tell you, are you aware that...."
These are usually the words that grabs someone's attention. Specially if it comes from your friend's mouth and these words are usually followed by juicy information either a fact or a fiction.
How powerful do you think a gossip is? Many years ago, I was still in elementary that time, there's a young woman in our locality who tried to commit suicide because people constantly talk about her and called her a bitch saying she had a lot of men in her life just because she has a lot of male friends. Those gossips tarnished her good name and ruined her reputation and as a result she became depresses and tried to commit suicide in the end. This is how powerful a gossip is. A small casual talk can lead to a tragic ending for someone.
Have you ever experience being the topic of your neighbors during their small talks and gossips? We always had a problem with our neighbors here who are fond of gossiping, which inspired me to write this article today. They tend to gossip and talk about every move we make. They make even the most trivial things about other people as their topic. And what's worse is they even gossip about each other! They seem to work better than any CCTV's out there because they know almost everything. It's like they always have their eyes on you and watching every move you make. That would seem creepy for others but that's the reality here. My sister used to have a lot of male friends, and they usually send her home to save money from fare, and each time she goes home, our neighbor's scrutinizing eyes are always preying on her and talks about her the next day.
The Chinese word for gossip is 'shentan', in Italian it is 'pettegolezo', in Spanish it is 'chisme' while in Filipinos call it 'tsismis'. This implies that gossip is anywhere, it can be present wherever we go. Others even say that 'where there are people, there is a gossip'. People have the tendency to get interested in other people so it is only normal to talk about others.
If we try to look at the brighter side of things, there is something good about gossip. Casual talks about our acquaintances, friends or even family members is part of our interpersonal communication and sometimes helps us to have good relationship with them. Casual talks are part of our socialization as human beings. Through some casual talks, we may be able to know some useful information such as who's sick and needs our help, who's that family member of our acquaintance or what's the latest news that's going in our locality. These are all useful information.
In the Philippines, when we hear the word 'tsismis' or gossip it always have a negative meaning for most people, and we view it as 'nonsensical talks'. Nonsensical small talks about other people's personal affairs when gets out of hand, usually leads to slandering, hurting others and worst is ruining the reputation of other people!
Sometimes, a gossip becomes out of hand when gossipers add a spice of assumption or fiction to a story. In many cases, nonsensical talks goes beyond what's right or wrong. Some adds false assumptions and distorts the truth in a story. At times, they make fun of the embarrassing experiences of others, and they talk about even the most personal affairs of someone. Some secrets that are shared with someone usually ends up being the secret of ten people! And these results to someone's reputation being ruined.
Think before you speak. This is already a common saying, but because of our imperfection, people tend to forget these sayings and just say whatever they want to say even though it can already hurt others. If you don't know what result of you talking about something is, it's better to shut up and just bite your tongue.
Don't listen and engage in hurtful gossips. Sometimes it is inevitable to not engage in small talks but if you notice that a simple casual talk can already hurt someone or ruin someone's reputation, it might be better to change the topic in a tactful manner. This may not be easy and will require courage because you may end up being the next topic for their gossip if you do this! Some people are just unstoppable when it comes to gossip.
Control your reaction. You may have experienced being the subject of gossip but think about it, unconsciously you may have been a contributor to gossip too. People are usually okay with engaging in gossips as long as the topic is not about them but other people. Admit it or not, sometimes we become gossipers ourselves. We become interested in the latest gossip about a celebrity, about what happened to an acquaintance and others even take part in online gossips and without knowing it, we become contributors to gossips. So always control your reaction to a gossip, a story that we heard may not be that serious so don't make a big deal out of it and continue spreading the story to others.
Don't add fuel to the fire. Make sure that the way you act, the way you speak and the way you dress up will not be a reason for other people to talk about you.
Gossip can be both negative or positive depending on what you are talking about. But if a casual talk is already malicious and can harm someone, it's better to just shut your mouth and mind your own business!