#Opinion

Gossip Can Be Cathartic. But Here Are Red Flags That Shouldn’t Be Ignored

Gossip as a social behavior
In our society, mainly women are accused of gossiping and bitching others. But I know men too who are interested in gossip. So firstly let’s do away with the stereotype that gossiping is a feminine trait and that it is always wrong. As far as gossiping is concerned, it has its advantages and disadvantages.

It is cathartic to a limit that it helps you introspect, innovate and grow. But it is also a weapon to shame others based on biased thinking. So before we indulge in gossip, let us understand its dos and don’ts.

Gossiping, especially among women, can help in building a strong relationship of sisterhood. When women gossip about other women’s struggles, they draw inspiration from them to fight out similar kinds of difficulties in their own lives. By gossiping women identify and help those in their groups who are facing patriarchal restrictions but are unaware of them. Gossiping also helps women to learn new laws, trends and ideas that they wouldn’t learn if they confine themselves within their homes. 

As research has proved, gossip is a social skill and not a flaw in the character. 

For example the whisper network which is a chain of communication among women through which they share and alert each other of the history of sexual misconduct of a particular man in an organisation. It allows women to speak up and question the perpetrator that they couldn’t do while being alone.

But gossiping too has red flags. It can be a weapon to defame someone or spread biased thoughts from one ear to another. So here are a few red flags of gossiping so that you can identify them and stop indulging in it

  1. Defaming others

The moment when gossiping about the third person becomes a form of defamation of the person for their choices, gossip turns into a red flag. Rather than building relationships, it builds communities of biased thoughts and conceptions that stand in unity to impugn a person for the choices they make. It also leads to public defamation as gossip is like the air that can seep through the smallest of pores.

2. Upholding a biased opinion

Gossiping is wrong when it is done to certify certain biased thoughts. Like if women gossip about how girls should not be allowed to go out alone, or how homosexuality is a disease, it will become a way to consolidate these biased ideas. Gossiping always involves more than one person. And if even one person supports biased thoughts, they can become an obstacle in the society that is looking forward to growing.

3. When gossiping occupies most of your time

Gossiping is a leisure activity that is a part of a small gathering of friends or like-minded people. But if it becomes more than just an occasional thing, it is time you stop. It is not healthy for any person to indulge most of their time in gossiping or bitching about others. This might make that person intrusive who disrespects others’ privacy. There is a limit to how much you interfere in a person’s life. In the end, the privacy of a person is more important than anything else.

4. When gossiping disempowers someone

I still remember how a lie about a woman in my neighbourhood led to her disempowerment. Everyone in my neighbourhood was gossiping about how the woman had a relationship with a man and eloped with him. As a consequence of this, the woman’s parents found her through various means and married her off at an early age. No one really knows what was the truth but the woman had to bear the worst brunt of it. She had to quit her education, marry against her choice and give up her dreams and ambitions. This incident even became a warning sign for other parents in my colony who had daughters so that they can keep them in control.

So gossiping is not about defaming or disempowering someone. It is a form of discussion that shouldn’t necessarily result in action. Yes in some cases where a person is already oppressed, gossiping can turn into action. But mostly, it is a medium of solving things through conversations.

5. When you start feeling caged in the gossip group

At times, gossiping about others is not something that a person likes. Or even if they do, they might not like the verdicts that are passed by other people involved in the gossip. So if you feel you have been dragged into gossiping or that your group is supporting something that is not right, it is a warning sign for you to disengage before it is too late Because if you keep yourself caged in such groups, ultimately it will change your perspective towards life. It is just like how a person imprisoned for a long time starts considering the prison as their home.

Views expressed are the author’s own.