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Is gossiping EVER okay?

Apparently, gossip makes us happy.

“According to research out of the University of Ghent in Belgium, our brain cells light up in positive ways when we gossip, or tune into tabloids. Gossip is an instant stimulator of endorphins, so when the dirt gets dished, we’re happy campers.”*

But does that make gossiping okay?

Even though my disdain with gals who gossip is well documented (check out the following Cool Broad rules here, here, and here), I was intrigued by the premise that we’re naturally predisposed to gossip. Also, I was struck by the fact that when I looked up the word gossip in the dictionary, the definition didn’t capture the mean-spirited or potentially destructive nature that spreading a salacious story often has.

Gossip: idle talk or rumor, especially about the private affairs of others.

And then this weekend, I found myself breaking one of my most important rules: Cool Broads don’t gossip.

This is how it went down: As I chatted with another mom at my son’s soccer game, one of our kids’ team members came up. The reason: he’s a disaster.

This child has routine tantrums in the middle of the game, tells our coach he’s “not a real coach”, grabs the ball and runs off with it, refusing to relinquish it to the referee who is simultaneously chasing the boy and blowing his whistle in frustration, and often just flat out refuses to play if he isn’t happy with how the game is going.

His behavior leaves the other parents on the team with their mouths hanging open, in complete disbelief. His parent’s response….nothing. Nada, not a thing. So naturally, we’re left wondering…what’s going on here?

Anyway, I brought up the child with the other mom and it was only after we clutched each other in camaraderie, relieved that we weren’t the only ones incredulous at the child’s behavior and the parent’s inability (or unwillingness) to keep him from distracting the rest of the team, that I began to feel badly that I was, in effect, gossiping.

Cool Broads don’t gossip, I told myself, so I quickly said to the other mom, “I feel badly about talking about this family behind their backs.”

“I don’t,” she responded, “They deserve it. They’re ruining the experience for everyone else.”

Still, I was talking about the personal affairs of another and I wouldn’t be happy if someone did that to me. It wasn’t mean-spirited and I certainly wasn’t getting a thrill (despite the endorphin-releasing theory), but still, I was conflicted.

So, what do you think? Is gossiping EVER okay?


*, Health, June 17, 2008

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Tags: attitude · the rules

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15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Monkeytoemomma // Sep 22, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    I think, as long as it’s not mean-spirited, it can sometimes bring us together. It’s a way of bonding and sharing common interests or points of view.
    I wouldn’t want anyone talking about me or my family behind my back either, but I think I’m grounded enough to know it’s going to happen – has happened. I can’t stop other people from having an opinion or voicing them – it’s when it’s slanderous that it becomes a problem.

  • 2 thatcoolbroad // Sep 22, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    test commentluv

    thatcoolbroads last blog post..Are “status” decals on your car cool…or not?

  • 3 Jessica Gottlieb // Sep 22, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Your instincts were right.

    You can’t unring the bell and you wouldn’t want your kid talked about.

    But yeah, you’re a cool broad.

    Jessica Gottliebs last blog post..Midway Car Rental Review: Filed Under She Couldn’t Make This Up

  • 4 Emily // Sep 22, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Well I don’t think its ever cut and dry. I’ve talked about friends behind their backs to other friends when I’m worried about them – is that gossiping? Sounds like there is a bigger issue here and someone needs to say something to either the child or the parent. I tend to think of gossipping as passing on private information or saying something that you would never say to a person’s face.

    Emilys last blog post..Plan 8576 or Why Its Bad To Be Adaptable

  • 5 Woody // Sep 22, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Probably not the coolest thing but I have to be honest and admit that I do it. Some people just beg to be talked about!!

  • 6 How to Party with an Infant // Sep 22, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    I think writing fiction is my way of gossiping without feeling guilty :>

    How to Party with an Infants last blog post..Stray Questions

  • 7 schmutzie // Sep 23, 2008 at 10:53 am

    You are being featured on Intrepid Tuesday!

    schmutzies last blog post..50×365 #366 (Because It Is A Leap Year): The Palinode

  • 8 Tricia // Sep 23, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Well, now I’m quite sure there’s a post or two I need to go delete from my blog. Damn.

    It’s OK to point out a problem, but you’re right…cool broads don’t gossip.

  • 9 Pia // Sep 23, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    My answer is NO. It is never ok cool one. What product does it produce? Nothing good. If it makes one happy? That one has got to be a bit out there also. Why doesn’t some one talk to the parents? This is the source of the situation. Let them know that they should handle the sit with their child as it is setting a poor example for the rest of the children on the team. Suggest a way to handle it simply by a system of rewards and penalties. This would be producing a product you would feel happy about even if the parents don’t listen to you. At least you tried to do something effective to handle the situation rather than just sit back, be a spectator and complain. Sorry if I come on a bit strong. I had 4 children close in age all grown now but I never had time to let one be so self centered as to throw tantrums and such!

  • 10 Balva // Sep 24, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I thought gossip was passing on…possibly embellishment of… rumors or hearsay. I don’t consider discussion about observed conduct, whether complimentary or critical, as gossip. It may be inappropriate or appropriate, depending on the intent or circumstances, to discuss the observed conduct, but I do not think that it falls under your gossip rule.

  • 11 Stacy // Sep 24, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    It’s not okay. But no one is perfect, and some people behave so incredibly that it is natural to want to vent.

    Stacys last blog post..More pictures of the chicklet

  • 12 Miss Attitude // Sep 24, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Is it over okay? Probably not. Do we do it? Yes, I think it’s part of human nature.. especially when someone is breaking the rules or causing disruption in our lives. It seems to make us feel better to vent about it.

  • 13 Lizzybee // Sep 25, 2008 at 8:33 am

    My co-workers and I were just discussing this. It may be bad overall but I can’t help myself! I don’t really like to talk badly about people, but I do like to spread “news” I find out. I guess that’s the same thing?

  • 14 Grace // Nov 20, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    No one should talk about anyones personal life, unless it is with that person and during confidence. Otherwise, it is wrong, and many people do it causing rummors and problems at work, and marraiges. I have seen this happen!

  • 15 Tracy W // Nov 11, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I think the no-gossip rule is silly. We don’t live in islands, how people are raising their children, who they are having affairs with, etc, all affects everyone else’s lives. My extended family has several people who behave extremely destructively and talking about them behind their backs is an essential coping system, I would hate to leave my mother with nowhere to blow steam about her sister-in-law. And I most certainly would not leave my husband with no idea of what was going on. Then there’s the merry problem of the great-uncle who lies compulsively but can’t be disentangled from the family because he has no money, any visitors have to be prepared for him.
    And the emotional entanglement of affairs at work affects how you would handle a work problem with one half of the affair (hint, if one of your co-workers is having an affair with your boss, the boss is not the person to talk to about any work problems with the co-worker).
    Yes gossip can cause a lot of harm, but so can leaving people in ignorance of what’s going on around them.

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