Sometimes You Have to Bury the Bone
Have you ever been in the middle of getting some hot gossip and found yourself being anxious to hang up so that you could call somebody else to tell them what you heard? You can lie if you want to, but I know I have. I have even gone to the extent of writing notes to make sure that I didn’t forget anything so that I could tell the story accurately. It’s sad, but hell it’s life.
I remember having a conversation with my mother-in-law years ago where she mentioned the expectations that people place on you when it comes to gossip. She said, “Why would you expect for me to keep something a secret that you couldn’t keep a secret?” I laughed when she said it because it was funny, but it was also an amazing perspective. So much so that the statement has stayed with me for years and I find myself saying it randomly while also doing my best not to repeat what I’ve heard. But sometimes, that cup of tea is too hot not to spill.
I, like millions of other people, watch Real Housewives of Atlanta every season. I’m a huge fan of the franchise for many reasons including the fact that the show is full of talented, smart, successful and beautiful black women. Yes, its messy as hell, but it’s very entertaining. A few seasons ago one of the characters was labeled “the bone collector” based on her carrying gossip from one cast member to the next helping to stir the pot of confusion and just start and keep shit going. Sometimes the bone carrying can be funny but other times it can be so messy that it completely turns me off from watching and I will boycott the show for about 4 weeks. Oh, but don’t get it twisted, eventually I leave my make-believe soapbox to catch up and finish the season because, honestly, I enjoy the mess that does not impact my life. Whenever I find myself getting annoyed with the gossip on the show, I wonder if the cast ever try to use discernment. Having discernment about gossip and what to do with it is imperative to protecting relationships and ensuring that you aren’t risking the loss of trust from someone that values you or that you value.
Now, I am not talking about the regular gossip. You know the “yeah, she broke up with him again”, or the “you know he got arrested last night.” No, that’s just regular talk that, after time, people will find out any way. I’m talking about the gossip that’s really a secret that you were trusted to keep. I’m talking about the secrets that could ruin somebody’s life and/or family if this thing were to be exposed. Over the summer I heard something about somebody and I thought, “Wow why would anyone repeat this?” It was a rhetorical question that I posed to myself but then I really started to think about why people spread the business of others. I thought about the type of people who spread gossip and their motives and came up with a few:
The “Wanting To Be First Gossiper”
It’s like a gold medal when you’re the first to know something. When you have that exclusive tea, it’s like you won a prize. It gets you some attention because people want to know where and how you found out, and it puts you in the mix of some shit that you potentially have nothing to do with. So here you are, talking about something without context just to be a part of the conversation.
The “Green Eyed Gossiper”
Another component of gossiping is who is doing the gossiping? Nothing pisses me off more than hearing news about me from someone who does not know me or does not like me. Who told you my business?? AND WHY?? It annoys me equally when I hear gossip coming from someone about someone that I know they do not like. Oh, you can almost guarantee that this gossiper is going to add a little Lawry’s to the story just to salt it up a little bit. They can’t stand your ass and they’ve been waiting a long time to get some shit on you to tell everyone. This person gets annoyed when you breathe so to hear something that could tarnish your reputation is like music to their ears. If you are the person that spreads negative info about someone with ill-intent, your goal is to really make them look bad and to potentially get people to view them the way that you view them. Trying to damage someone else will never make you look good. It will only make you look desperate. I dismiss this type of gossip because that green-eyed jealousy makes you an unreliable witness. Ask Judge Mathis.
The " Oops Gossiper”
This is the “oh shit I thought you knew” gossiper. I honestly think this is innocent. I didn’t mean to say it, it just came out. This type of gossip comes from people that we used to say had “diarrhea of the mouth”. As soon as they open their mouths somebody else’s business falls out. So although they have no intention of being messy or mean, they’re just careless which can also be a problem.
The “Angry Gossiper”
Have you ever been so pissed at someone that you tell their business with a purpose to hurt them out of anger? I have done it and I have watched it be done. It’s truly the ugliest thing that anyone can do because it calls to question trust. Being upset with someone does not give you authority to repeat the things that they’ve told you in confidence. The thing is, once the smoke clears, how do you apologize for the damage that you’ve caused? I’ve seen relationships permanently damaged from angry gossip. When I’m upset with someone, I do my best not to tell anyone until I’ve had time to calm down. If I absolutely have to talk to someone I try to talk to someone who I know for a fact is not mad at the same person or who does not hold any ill-feelings towards the person so that they can provide a non-biased response.
And finally, there’s…..
The “I Have No Idea How to Say This and Need Some Help Gossiper”
To portray that every conversation about you has ill-intent is not healthy. Loved ones, friends and people who care about you will have conversations about you without the goal of tearing you down or hurting you. I think we have all been in a situation where we have found something out about a friend or family member that we know we have to tell them but we just don’t know how and in those scenarios we reach out to someone for some help. You may reach out to someone who may or may not know the recipient of the news but you’re definitely reaching out to someone who has been there and has experience with communicating this type of news. Your goal is making sure that you’re sensitive to the situation and that you do not make it about yourself.
Gossip like many other things all boils down to intent. What was the intent? Why are you talking about this and what do you wish to gain? Ask yourself these questions before you repeat something and before you believe something that you hear about someone else because intent is everything. We have to be responsible for the shit we take in. You have to know when to say this is some bitter ass gossip and walk away and you have to know when to drop the bone. There’s nothing like being grown and getting caught up in a 3-way call about some shit you repeated. Bury that bone or it may just bury you.