Monday, March 15, 2010

There is such a thing as “Good Gossip?”

By Jillian Maas Backman

Before I tell you this, you have to swear you will not tell another soul and not repeat what I tell you………..Gossip can a persuasive device to combat a negative force infiltrating our quiet communities, domestic violence crimes. Years ago, gossip was an original deterrent to this indignant behavior. How many of you heard from our parents, better yet, parent ourselves, “You better not do that because everybody in the neighborhood will know and talk about you. “ Worse yet, you will get a bad reputation in town for being a bad person! Are we in the midst of dismantling the mightiest un-regulated resource we have left, our intimate conversational infrastructure, good gossip?

The recent homicide in California involving the young jogging victim and subsequent arrest of the potential perpetrator was the catalyst of this blog topic. Through further investigation, this particular incident has now been linked to another potential victim 10 miles away from the original jogger homicide. As predicted, the usual banter ensued. How could this happen within such a short distance between locations and go undetected? I will tell you why….we is too afraid to talk among ourselves anymore. Neighbors don’t know their neighbors. And if we do, we are too spooked to “gossip” about others for fear of higher consequences for spreading rumors. Could we have prevented this tragic event if we were talking about it within neighborhoods, spreading crucial insights that only people who lived in close proximity to this known offender could have detected and reported down the line to the next town over?

I am directly responsible for the safety and wellness of my family, and to a certain extent, responsible for my friends’ family as well. You can bet that if I see, feel in my gut (intuition) or red flags going off in my head about someone’s outwardly odd behavior, I will personally host a frank discussion with my family, friends and fellow citizens. I rely on the feedback of my confidants to share their own opinions on the matter. Would you label my private exchanges of my stories, my feelings and to some extent, my judgment of others as gossip?

Gossip is bad and hurts other people:

It can be, believe me, I have been on the end of many a rumors in regards to the work I do in the world. For years, I spent running after those who spoke the hurtful words and wasting my time counter offering the other side of the argument. Until one day, I stopped, allowed myself to see both sides of human nature, and realized people need to talk. They need to hash things out verbally, sometimes to a good listener. And then, and only then, can true resolutions come to the fore-front.

Am I encouraging us all to be vigilantes and take matter into our own hands?

Of course not, that would be silly. In fact, my fellow author, Cherry Simpson wrote a beautiful blog entry entitled: “Love Like the Good Samaritan.” I echo her sentiments and encourage all of you to re-read that submission.

Good gossip can only be productive if we use this time to assimilate basic guidelines to our kitchen table chit-chat. Every critical discussion contains two well defined protocol: One: define the problem at hand, i.e. the strange interaction of the person down the street, and two: follow through action plan.  

We all love the first part of that equation, the good gossip, the second phase, not so much, the solutions segment of this concave. I say let’s go back to basics.

Adult Peer Pressure

“Word of mouth” conversations can be our most treasured asset we have to deter, flush out or even expose. Peer pressure can be an extremely effective vise to curb some of this aggressive activity.

What’ wrong with applying of healthy dose of Adult Peer Pressure. The same method we use to modify our children’s behavior every day. Putting people on notice, we are watching you. This does not give you the right to be aggressive in your watching tactics, just reasonable. Making their existence in your environmental living space so uncomfortable, changes are inevitable, by default. Neighborhoods watch mentality with conviction, not apathy.

We are a country that loves the gift of gab. We meet in coffee shops, backyards, down the street at grandma’s house. I do it for a living every week on my radio show. And remember,

Sometimes rumors can destroy but sometimes they can recue! Be watchful with purpose.

In loving gratitude, Jillian Maas Backman

Jillian Maas Backman is the weekly host of I.T.’S For You radio program which airs every Sunday morning, 9-10 am (CST) on-air, 961 fm (Lake Geneva, WI and North shore Chicago area)and on-line,

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