While walking late at night, one usually begins discussing current events…and by current events I am not referring to the current U.S. presidential campaigns. My late night current event conversations usually begin with “Did you hear about…” and end with “I know! isn’t that wild?!”. If you have not yet guessed, I am talking about gossip. Gossip, the age old activity that feeds the wandering minds and travels down the broken telephone lines of suburbia.
Gossip is not just something for the a-lists of Hollywood, for gossip can be found all over society. As we take part in the story time of hidden secrets, we indulge in this million dollar industry that is (what I like to call), the gossip capital.
Take a look at any newsstand tabloid as you prepare to check out at the supermarket. All the tabloids will promise some hard hitting scoop from a “A reliable source”, or “a good friend of the family”. In reality if it were true that a good friend of the family was leaking information to the tabloids, I highly doubt that this person can still be regarded as a good friend.
Is gossip important, or should we be focussing our time on stories with actual meaning and depth?
No. In my humble opinion, gossiping burns more calories than 20 minutes on the treadmill. I would gladly spend my gym time discussing the latest news than pulling my hamstring on the elliptical. I would be lying if I stated that I do not gossip…I probably gossip more than I should…truly it is a vice.
When looking at the conventional concept, gossip seems to be a mode of warfare. Sure, one may not be ‘fighting’per say, but it is the subtle passive-agressive statements that can really make their mark.
Probably not an expert in gossip but definitely an expert in war, Chinese officer Sun Tzu states:
“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must see inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe that we are away…” (The Art of War, 42).
Gossip IS deception! spreading like a spark in the forest, gossip sends the trees into flames, and allows the smoke to billow over the trees and blind the unexpected passersby. Used with its deceptive properties, gossip can turn even the most clean of individuals into something vile.
What would Sun Tzu think of Gossip Girl? the fictional villain (Dan) who spread the secrets of high-schoolers to the un-expecting New York City. Mode of war, or just plain pettiness?
Now by no means am I telling you that deception is key. To quote Sun Tzu once more he states:
“To lift an autumn leaf is no sign of great strength to see sun and moon is no sign of sharp sight; to hear the voice of thunder is no sign of a quick ear. What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease” (53).
Just because one is asserting their supposed power through the word of mouth, it does not make them a stronger force. While gossip can be a harmless pastime where you share the latest scoop with friends, it can be the same gossip that can be skewed over time and edited into something very different than the original tale.
For any gossip victims out there I have one tip for you that can be learned from any Public Relations professional: “Ignore it”.
Unless the rumour is catastrophically harming your reputation (In which case, sue the bitch who shamed you for slander), the best mode of action is to move on with ease. When you defend yourself over a silly rumour, you are just throwing gasoline into the fire…you are making the situation into something much bigger than it needs to be.
— XO XO Gossip Girl.