What is there about gossiping that so many of us are drawn to it like a moth to a flame? Is it a guilty pleasure where we think there are no victims? As kids we’re taught not to tattle on others. As adults it seems like we do it all the time. Some of us even get paid for it.
Idle talk about the personal or private affairs of others is big business today. Look at TV shows like Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood. Or blogs like Perez Hilton. CW has even built an entire show around it in Gossip Girl.
This past Sunday’s New York Times included a great article on gossip in the workplace. A worker tells about joining a business with a no-gossip policy, wondering at the time “how is that possible?” She says that everyone knows what’s expected of them and they hold each other accountable.
You’ve probably read news accounts about the layoffs that happened a month ago within the churchwide staff of Women of the ELCA and those that have just happening within the staff of the ELCA. There was all kinds of gossiping going on at the Lutheran Center around the layoffs and the decisions that led to the layoffs. I can tell, too, from social networking sites and blogs that there’s no shortage of gossip within the whole church about these layoffs. And I’ve seen how destructive some of this gossip has been and continues to be.
You know how some things just stick with you, long after you read them? I remember an article Karen Melang wrote for Lutheran Woman Today back in the 1990s where she talked about giving up gossiping during one Lenten season. I was so struck by that idea. She wrote about how her behavior changed that Lent, within her workplace and with family and friends, how she found herself building up and supporting people, not tearing them down.
Why not get a jump on Lent and consider giving up gossiping today?
Linda Post Bushkofsky is the executive director of Women of the ELCA.