February 14, 2023

Gossip: Blabber-Mouthing Hearsay

Featured in MEDIUM, "Age of Empathy" 

Gossip: Blabber-Mouthing Hearsay

A social code to live by

Eugene de Blaas — “The Friendly Gossips

Lip-flapping, idle prattle, muck-raking, and tittle-tattle. In other words, gossip.

It’s the kind of discourse that creates small-mindedness, and it touches all ages — from children’s whispers in the playground to grown-ups looking askance when you pass them in the supermarket and you thought they were your friend.

I’m still plagued by the fourth-grade memory of “confidentially” telling my best friend Susu that our other friend Annie was a real bitch. It spread to everyone in my Girl Scout troop and beyond. Before I knew it, guess whose mother was the new Girl Scout leader the following fall. Annie’s. Her mother must have heard it because she made it impossible, unattainable actually, to receive any badges I could show off on my sash.

In our household, we try to enforce what we call “The Small Town
Code of Ethics.” We encourage seeking the high road and consider it lowering oneself to speak disparagingly of others. If someone casts for dish, divert the conversation. Also, don’t talk despairingly about people behind their backs. You never know when it might come back to sting you.

“By refusing to provide a receptive ear to gossip or an active mouth to spread it, you’ll diminish its effect on your life and others,”
said Wanda Urbanska, former host of the national PBS
television series, “Simple Living” and co-author of “Moving to a Small Town: A Guidebook to Moving from Urban to Rural America.”

Practice verbal restraint.
Remember, in a small town especially, everyone has a bloodline, either by friendship, business, or of course, family. Everyone and everything is inter-

Here are a few tips to help you live by this small-town code:
Steer clear from vicious gossip. In other words, avoid the grapevine.

If you criticize someone, listeners might think they are next in your line of fire.

If you have blabbermouth tendencies, zip it.

Seek to protect one another’s feelings. Look out for the other guy.

I interviewed renowned football legend Coach Herman Boone, who was portrayed in the film “Remember the Titans.” I loved the way Boone phrased it. “Respect each and every person because that is what binds us all as a community.” He also said:

“Watch your words because they will become your actions.

Watch your actions because they will become your character.

Watch your character because that’s who you are.”

Bonni Brodnick is the author of POUND RIDGE PAST, a contributor to HuffPost, and a former editorial staffer at Condé Nast Glamour and House & Garden. She has written scripts for Children’s Television Workshop, was a weekly newspaper columnist, and editor of two academic mags. Bonni is a member of Pound Ridge Authors Society and has a blog (bonnibrodnick.com). She is also a proud Stroke Survivor.

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