Letters to myself: Is Gossiping Healthy?

At my daughters’ school, it’s called the carpool mafia. It’s where rumors are born and trouble begins.

“I heard the meeting didn’t go well last night. Was the 5th grade teacher drunk?”

“Susan’s mom went out on a date with Tracy’s ex. Can you believe that?”

“Did you hear William got suspended? Do his parents even know he’s a bad kid?”

I used to be a magnet for gossip at the school, for no other reason than I had three kids there and knew just about everybody. After getting caught in the middle of too many icky situations, and feeling two-faced with more than one friend, I put up an imaginary shield that said tell someone else.

I wish I could say that made me a virtuous person and I no longer engage in criticizing others behind their back, but I can’t. It’s almost as if women are inherently drawn to gossip when given the opportunity to sit together and talk, with no other purpose than to “catch up.” Somewhere in the discussion, opinions are given about people not in attendance, who can’t defend their perceived shortcomings.

A basic psychology class teaches us that we gossip in order to make ourselves look better. By tearing someone else down, we build ourselves up. Unfortunately, to the mature, gracious individual, we’re only showing how small and petty we are. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to recognize more and more the ugliness of gossip and the trouble it can cause. I also hate the way I feel after. It’s as if there’s a dusty, cruel layer of dirt covering my skin. If I could only take a shower and wash it all off.

Occasionally, I’m honest enough to imagine that others might gossip about me. They may even tell lies I can’t disavow. It’s uncomfortable, and I wonder what it says about me that I partake in it too often. Taking that long shower would be a much better use of my time.