The one who denounces his neighbor lacks wisdom,
but the one who has discernment keeps silent.
The one who goes about slandering others reveals secrets,
but the one who is trustworthy conceals a matter.
Have you ever started a rumor about yourself just to see if it got back to you? I haven’t. I’ve had my share untrue rumors that have been shared about me, but I’ve never made one up about myself.
There have been hundreds of skits and shows about gossip. I can think of an episode of The Office, a skit we’ve done at camps, movies based on the idea and probably more if I wanted to.
What I’ve learned is that gossip is a very bad thing. It’s not good to talk about people. It’s not good to spread rumors about people. It’s selfish.
How is it selfish? Well, what’s our true motivation for spreading rumors about others? What is it that makes us want to slander someone?
From what I can see about it, there are two reasons.
1.) We are trying to build ourselves up by tearing others down.
For some reason, we feel better about ourselves when we are talking about the failures (true or false) of others. When we are able to focus in on other people, what they are doing (or not doing) we pat ourselves on the back and feel better about who we are. Of course, if we were being real with everyone, we have just as many failures we could share about ourselves as the person we are slandering.
2.) We are trying to get attention for ourselves as it pertains to the person we are gossiping about.
This is the worst part. We are trying to use the downfall, peril and misfortune of others to get attention for ourselves. Most of the time we are gossiping about someone we are connected to. So, when we share that gossip, we share it in light of our connection with that person. So, we talk about what people are doing so we can get attention for ourselves. “Poor me.”
The point is, the wise person knows better. Being wise means we know that slander is never a good thing. Neither for the person or us. If we want to be truly wise, we need to be the kind of people who are trustworthy, and conceal what people share with us in confidence.