Gossip is defined by Dictionary.com as "idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others." If you Google the word, you can get a sense of just how obsessed our culture is with it. When I searched it, out of the fourteen results that appeared on the first page, nine of them were media sites devoted to spreading rumors and gossip about celebrities. Our society loves gossip. Why? Because, quite frankly, it’s interesting. It’s intriguing. We want to compare our lives to others. And when those others are celebrities we have no personal connection to, the complete destruction of their reputation can be fun to watch.
For some (and by some, I mean most), the gossip doesn’t stop with celebrities. In fact, most gossip is started and spread among friends. Because what’s more fun than sharing the destruction of someone you’ve never met? Spreading the ruin of someone you would call a friend, of course. We are a society of cannibals. Our hunger and thirst may not be for literal blood, but the metaphorical bloodshed that gossip creates is just as bad.
Why do we do it? And I say “we” because we all do. Some of us struggle with it more than others, but everyone has spread gossip of some form or another at some point in their life. And for many, it’s a constant habit. So why do we attack those we pretend are our friends? Our own insecurities and shame. Bitterness and jealousy. The shock. Everyone loves a good scandal, right? We get high on the rush of horror that it must be true. We find shallow fulfillment in that old trick of tearing someone else down to make ourselves feel better. We’re bloodthirsty for pride and self-approval and what better way to feed those things than through the broken reputation of our so-called friends?
Gossip is a disease. It’s a corruption of truth and, quite honestly, morals. It’s selfish. It’s prideful. It’s contagious. One twist of the truth rarely stops after coming out of just one mouth. Rumors are wildfire, spreading and growing rapidly. And it takes a long time to put them out, too. A few small words have incredible destructive power.
I wonder what the world would look like if we all decided to fight that disease. What would the world look like if everyone decided to give up their insecurities and their pride and be honest? What would it look like if we all learned to keep our mouths shut? It would certainly be a quieter world. And more peaceful, too.
So why don’t we? Why don’t we give up something that’s only hurting, you know, everyone? I wish it was as simple as everyone deciding to stop and think before they speak, to consider the implications of their words and the motives of their heart. It’s not. I wish it was. But, it’s not. Gossip is a disease that takes over the mouth by infecting the heart. And the heart is a very hard thing to cleanse. In fact, it’s impossible for anyone to do it of their own power. That power belongs to God and God alone. He created us to love, but sin has corrupted our desires so that our love has become self-centered. But that’s exhausting. Watching others fall beneath the weight of twisted truth may be momentarily entertaining, but there is no lasting strength that comes from it. I want my strength to come from someone far greater than myself, someone far more pure, someone that is not corrupted by selfish ambitions. I’m giving up the cannibal life. I’m giving up my pride. I’m giving up my insecurities and turning to God for a redefining of love and a cleansing of heart so that my words may be few and true.