Monday, February 21, 2011

You Don't Say!

"I won't stand for gossip!
No, I sit down and make myself comfortable for gossip."
—Crabby Road

What is gossip anyway? Is it only when you say something bad about someone else, intending to ruin their reputation? Or is it when you say something good that just hasn't been told yet?

A friend of mine said recently, "I've never been able to tell my own news—my mother always told it first." Is it gossip for mom to tell the great-aunts the family scuttlebutt? Or is it helpful to know they'll hear about the raise, the house, the engagement without you having to call personally at a busy time? Is it treading on toes to share news that's not yours to share?

What about the times you could help, or know someone who could help, but it's just been discussed "in confidence?" And how do you handle a situation when it would save feelings and embarrassment to let the word get around, but the person doesn't want it known. For instance when a couple separates and passes it off as a work situation, and the neighbors are planning a surprise 50th birthday bash without understanding the possibilities.

Is acting on gossip charity? Or is it meddling? I don't mean malicious snooping; I'm referring to the friend who might be having a miscarriage and doesn't want anyone to know, but you'd love to take her kids for the day. Or the niece that tells you in confidence that her mother needs a shoulder to cry on, but says, "You can't let her know I called you."

I'm just wondering what you think. I won't tell anyone—I'm the very definition of discretion.
(Unless I see a trustworthy friend.)


Diane said...

Ooh, tough one. I'm currently in a position at church where I hear and learn of things that are confidential a lot, and it is a careful dance to figure out how to help sometimes. Or get others to help without giving stuff away.

Kay Dennison said...

I tend to be an open book about myself but tend to be careful about passing on stories that aren't mine to tell.

Grandma Shelley said...

What a great topic. I allow my adult kids to share their own news and issues. It is one of the keys to us living so successfully as neighbors and family.

I also think that sharing information (unless you hear it in confidence) about the needs of others can be shared if the true intent is to help. It is a fine line indeed that needs to be respected.

Christie said...

I am the product this year of keeping it all in and it was the wrong move. I say tell. Who doesn't want a little help now and then?

polly said...

i always hope people will tell someone about their troubles. most friends want to help and can't if they don't know what is wrong. i always hate it when people have problems, don't say anything and then are hurt when no one steps up to help them. most of us just want a hug and to be reassured that we are loved. i don't think it hurts to pass on a story if it is to help, but not if it is malicious.

Raejean said...

Sharing that someone is having a rough time isn't the same as sharing the details of said rough time. If we seek to help with love and a little inspiration, we won't go wrong.

Grandma Cebe said...

I've always considered gossip to be something that is broadcast widely, without considering possible consequences. I don't think it's gossip if you learn of someone in need and then do something specific to help, even if it means telling another person. Discretion is the key. It was common knowledge in a ward where I used to live that if you wanted everyone to know something, just tell _____. She was the ward blabber mouth.

Grandma Lizzie's House said...

I'm dealing with a different kind of gossip right now with my 6th graders. Some students are making up hurtful things about others and spreading it around the school. I'm not even sure that it is gossip if it's not true in the first place.

Hannah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hannah said...

I think gossiping is saying something about someone that you wouldn't say if the subject could hear you.

I think if someone truly needs help, you could figure out a way to help without sharing all the juicy details.

Deidra said...

Such a good topic. I've been wondering this myself. I, personally, hated people sharing my good news of expecting, so I don't pass it along when I hear it. I feel like it's not my news to share. But some women live for the opportunity to "break" a news story!

I've had experiences where I wanted them hush-hush, but was so grateful for people (ahem, Dad) who slipped up and I benefited from loving concern from people I didn't think I wanted knowing in the first place. So tricky, indeed. I guess when things are done in love and concern, it's hard to be too angry.

Though maybe just sharing that someone needs extra love and concern is enough detail. If they want to open up more, then it's their choice.