Youth Speak News' Elizabeth Chelmecki says that after stopping herself from engaging in gossip has made her a better friend and a better Catholic. Photo/Pexels

Speaking Out: The dangers of gossip

By  Elizabeth Chelmecki, Youth Speak News
  • July 28, 2017

We live in a culture that glorifies gossip, from celebrity tabloids and reality TV to the rumour mill in our own personal circles at school, work, home and on social media.

There seems to be something about listening and sharing gossip that feels so satisfying. It makes us feel entertained, validated, superior and included. This is especially true in high school.

In my four years, rumours spread fast. Gossip was casual talk that made up a significant amount of conversations with friends.

This person did that, these people got into a huge fight and aren’t friends anymore. This couple broke up.

If there is one stereotype about high school that is true, it is how fast a rumour can spread.

I must admit that I was usually an active participant in this culture. I would listen and share news with my friends. I heard rumours (which were almost always not true) about people that I wasn’t close with and would share the gossip.

It was easy to give into temptation and join everybody. I never thought of it as a big deal. What was one rumour but a few words?

But this was all changed when I was the recipient of some juicy gossip. The only thing that made this time different from the others was that the gossip wasn’t about someone I talked to occasionally or only knew casually. It was about one of my best friends.

I was shocked. My friend was one of the kindest people I knew and the rumour wasn’t true, but it was ruining her reputation. This changed the way I thought about idle gossip, which previously probably made up a quarter of my conversations with my best friends.

I realized that gossip, even just listening to it, changed the way I thought of people before I even had a chance to get to know them. Because of the rumour mill, I had preconceived notions of others that were not even accurate.

Pope Francis called gossip a form of murder. He said when we use our words to spread hateful things about other people, we are also ruining the image of God in that person.

Gossiping is usually accompanied by hypocrisy and is divisive because it ruins peace and unity within our communities.

I am not perfect and avoiding gossip is difficult, especially for people my age. But as soon as I made an effort to stop gossiping, I noticed a positive change in my friendships.

Time that was previously spent trying to tear people down in my conversations was now devoted to focusing on whoever I was talking to. I learned more about my friends and what was going on with them in the moment. Stopping myself from engaging in gossip has made me a better friend and a better Catholic.

(Chelmecki, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)

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