What do you do when you don’t want to know about so-and-so’s recent scandal?
For better or worse, gossip is a fact of American life. We have entire media industries built on spreading rumors and churning the gossip mill. The motivation is always clear: Smut sells.
These media hubs wouldn’t exist without an audience. For whatever reason there’s a segment of our population that loves the smell of dirty laundry. It happens in Hollywood, it happens in suburbia and it happens in the military, too.
Juicy storytelling can lead to dissension, fighting and even the ruining of reputations, lives and marriages. Why would anyone participate in something as destructive and malicious as gossip in the first place?
There are a lot of reasons people actively participate in gossip. Here are three types of regular gossips I have encountered:
“Blasé Bettys” who are simply bored. They enjoy the drama of passing on juicy information. It’s a beneficial business for them because other gossips seek them out. They can also fill the ears of the disinterested full of gossip before they even know what it was they were listening to.
“Special Starlas” who like to show they’re special and have some tidbit of information on someone that no one else has. Of course having that juicy morsel means nothing until they can share it in order show their special position.
“Vicious Vixen.” She is just plain malicious. She enjoys spreading truths, half truths and bold-faced lies because she takes pleasure in seeing others squirm.
Regardless of intent, the outcome of gossip is generally damaging to relationships and damaging to families. It can also hurt your spouse’s career in the long run. Like it or not you are an ambassador for your spouse and family, and if your reputation can reflect negatively on your family.
Breaking the Cycle
What can you do when you find yourself cornered near the cantaloupes at the commissary by one of the aforementioned gossips? First, avoid regret and don’t participate. Here are a few ways to do just that:
Be able to recognize gossip by asking yourself three questions: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it necessary for me to know?
Gossip gets its life and vitality from both mouthes and ears. There is nothing wrong with telling someone you don’t want to hear about a third party who isn’t present.
Stop participating in the cycle. Gossip is not a victimless pastime. Eventually your gossip may burn vital bridges that not only hurts your own standing in the community, but your spouse and other family members may suffer as well.
If you are tempted to jump in with the gossiping crowd, always remember that doesn’t give you gossip immunity. All is fair in love, war and gossip.
Adrienne May is a military spouse. Her husband is an Army soldier and now is serving in the Army National Guard. Together they have three children from preschool to pre-teen. Adrienne has a Bachelors Degree in Sociology & Non-Profit Management, and is actively involved in family readiness and disaster preparedness on the state level. She spends her free time advocating for military family programs, homecoming transition programs and adequate veterans benefits.
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Adrienne May maintains Military Family Central for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation's leading VA-approved lender. As a mom of three, from toddler to teenager, and wife to a National Guard solider, Adrienne has built up a massive library of resources, tips, articles and contributors for military families of all shapes, sizes and branches!