I have heard it said before that when people say mean-spirited things about others it comes from a place of insecurity and jealousy because of a personal weakness. For instance, if someone mocks another for being heavier, they might only be saying mean things because they are overwhelmed by an obsession with their own weight. I personally believe that there is truth in this idea, at least in my life there is, because any time I think a mean thought, it is always because I feel threatened or insecure. Furthermore, I have always noticed that people get the most malicious and nasty when a topic is brought up that hits home for them. I mean come on, have you ever seen someone be mean about something that they care absolutely nothing about? No, because that would be irrational.
This got me to thinking about gossiping. You see, gossiping isn’t exactly the same thing as being blatantly mean to someone. It involves a level of anonymity that protects the aggressor. It can come from anger, boredom, and even curiosity. Everyone partakes in it, whether it is something as light hearted as gossiping about the latest thing a celebrity did, or as deep as discussing significant life choices people in our lives are making. Often times we don’t even notice that we are doing it. In fact, we are often only really reminded of how much we gossip when we are put in the uncomfortable position of having to answer for a rumor we may have told to one too many friends, or find that the very someone we are talking about passes by right as we are in the middle of telling a piece of gossip about them.
Personally, I think that gossiping stems from the very same core place as when we are mean to someone. Ultimately, we only talk about and discuss whatever we are worried about ourselves. For instance, I am only concerned about what someone is wearing, when I myself am uncomfortable in an outfit. However, I think there is an importance to acknowledging that this isn’t the proper manner to deal with our feelings. It seems that we use gossiping as a means to let out insecurities we are too fearful to say out loud. Now, imagine a world where we unabashedly gossip about ourselves. What if we paused and were honest. Instead of talking behind someone’s back about their outfit, what if we looked them in the eye and said, I’m jealous of how great you look in that dress because I’m not feeling too wonderful in my outfit right now. Imagine the possibilities. I have a sneaking suspicion that we would start to form bonds and get to know people on a deeper level. I also have a hunch that we may even begin to feel better about ourselves. Nothing seems as big and looming when its shared and spoken out loud. By gossiping solely about ourselves we are able to release insecurities from festering internally and turn weaknesses into outward acknowledgements of our own humanity. Ultimately, it is with this external understanding of ourselves that we can grow stronger.