Think Before You Speak: How You Idle Gossip Can Hurt
The Other Moms
I really hate picking the boys up from school. Today just sealed the deal though. As I stood on the sidewalk waiting for the bell to ring wearing a pair of blue jean shorts, a tank top, and a brand new hair style and shade of red, I thought I looked pretty good. About 10 feet away from me was a group of 3 "pretty moms". You know the kind I mean...always look perfect, long hair, skinny, perfect hair, clothes, makeup, and jewelry. Behind them were the school buses, still running and very loud. There were no kids out yet.
Are you with me so far? Pretty moms 10 feet away beside the very loud buses. Me, standing there thinking I look pretty good and feeling good about myself for the first time in ages. Got it so far?
Then I overhear the most horrifying words any self-conscious person can be unlucky enough to hear directed at them. "What was she thinking?" "Yesterday she had hair down to her shoulders now she looks like a dyke!" "Yea, see how she's trying to play it off with the jewelry?" (I was wearing small gold hoop earrings and a necklace) "She never wears jewelry." "Is her hair really spiked?" "Oh my God! Look at all those tattoos!"" Who does she think she is, some rock star?" What kind of mom is she, walking around looking like that?" The whole time the 3 moms are talking they're pointing, giggling, and making all sorts of gestures about my appearance. I had my sunglasses on and I wasn't directly facing them so I'm pretty sure they didn't think I was paying any attention to them. I know they didn't think I could hear them. It was loud by the buses and they were trying to keep it down but I have really good hearing. I heard everything they said. I wore shorts today because it's Florida and it's either shorts or risk a heat stroke. Every time they giggled I wished I had opted for the possible heat stroke. Their spiteful observations were dredging up old wounds that were best left healed over and buried deep.
Did they really think that if I didn't know then it didn't matter what they said about me? These weren't young 18-20something moms with their first child in kindergarten. These moms were late 20's to mid 30's. Do some people really never loose the horrible high school mentality of what they don't know won't hurt them when it comes to gossiping about others when they think they can get away from it? And why in the world are they always the pretty ones, the one's who seem to have it all together and are the envy of other moms around them? "Why they gotta be so snooty?" as my youngest son would put it.
Did they even stop to think about what might happen if thy were overheard?
How it Hurts
Gossiping is a type of bullying. It's like teasing only worse because you do it behind someone's back rather than to their face. It hurts people and doesn't give them a chance to defend themselves. If a person has been the victim of vicious gossip and they meet someone who's heard the gossip, their frst impression is going to be based on the gossip and rumors. Gossip can be especially nasty among adults and the sad part is, from what Ive seen it's mostly unintentional. It's like we graduate high school, get married, have kids, and suddenly it's okay to gossip because you're just talking to other moms. When we criticize another mom's appearance or even a child's, we used the excuse "I'm just looking at it from a mom's point of view."
It doesn't hurt any less because we're older. In fact, it hurts more. Kids can be cruel and some will refuse to play with others because of the things they've heard their moms say. Other moms refuse to let their kids play with certain others because of what's been spread about in gossip and "casual observations". And when the gossip spreads from a snippy mom to a teacher it can adversely effect the children of the mom being gossiped about.
That's not to mention the personal effects it can have on the person. When you gossip about someone you know, you might know about their past. When you gossip about someone you don't know you obviously don't know anything about them. And you likely don't know anything about them now. You don't know that your words make them feel less than an inch tall, that they may open old hurts and bring up bad feelings for them. You don't know what you might be doing to their heart.
It's not okay.
It's not right.
There is NO valid excuse!
Please think before you speak next time a snide thought crosses your mind. Think about how you would feel if someone was saying those things about you.