I'm not much good at cocktail parties. I'm hopeless around the water
cooler. I'm really bad at Monday morning quarterbacking. I'm
terrible at armchair punditing. And as for
I'm nothing short of a total disaster.
Small talk and idle chit chat aren't among my strong
suits - I don't do them very well. They're not among my natural
talents. They've never been among my gifts. If anything,
small talk and idle chit chat are on the other end of the spectrum for
me: they're challenges.
But if small talk and idle chit chat are challenges for me, they're
like a walk in the park compared to what happens for me
when small talk and idle chit chat become personal about
people. When small talk and idle chit chat become personal about
people, then they're gossip. And when gossip becomes the
mainstay of the conversation ie when gossip becomes the talk of the
moment, then it's time for me to up and leave the party.
That's not because I hold any strong moralviews
on gossip. Neither do I have any heavily invested judgements or
opinions about people who gossip. Honest I don't! - they're just
people. It's simply that I'm not good at gossip. I wouldn't get along
well in any group who spoke a
I couldn't speak, until I learned the
- as I learned French during my
sojourn in Paris.
There I had an attraction and a motivation to learn French. But I've
never been attracted enough or motivated enough by gossip to put in the
practice time to get good at it. And I'm not likely to do
so in the future either because I'm not called to learn
the skills required to get good at gossip.
a conversation or reports about other people's private lives which
might be unkind, disapproving or not true
The thing for me about gossip isn't what it's about. In other words,
for me gossip isn't about what (or whom) it talks about. It's
not merely that gossip is small talk and idle chit chat about other
peoples' personal affairs. Neither is it that gossip almost always
occurs when the people being gossiped about aren't present. In other
words, it's not that gossip is almost always snide and behind peoples'
backs. Neither is it that gossip is often unkind and tacitly
disapproving ... and mildly vicariously voyeuristic and
judgemental to boot.
It's also not that gossip is mostly rumor with no basis in
truth at all. In fact (if I were to bring my own two cents
worth into this) neither is it that I'm not particularly good
at gossip and small talk and idle chit chat. It's not because of any
of the above that I
The thing for me about gossip is it's almost never distinguished as
gossip by people who gossip. That's why I
it, and that's the only reason I
it. But for me that's enough. Don't get me wrong: there's
with gossip. Really there isn't. There's
with talking about people. If we didn't talk
about people, Life as we know it would cease to function.
My only quarrel with gossip is it doesn't generate anything new like
a possibility. Gossip isn't generative
It's the "cheap talk" in the phrase "Talk is
cheap.". And being the cheap talk in the phrase "Talk is cheap", it
cheapens all talk, even talk which isn't cheap - like my
word, for example. My word isn't cheap. My word (that is to say
who I really am
isn't cheap. Rather it's we who cheapen talk. It's we who
cheapen talk with gossip. It's we who cheapen talk with gossip and with
small talk and with idle chit chat, none of which bring forth
anything new like a possibility.
That's where I
on gossip. Here's where I
on being gossiped about:
of my personal affairs aren't worth much. Really they
aren't. They're not worth talking about. But If I'm going to be talked
about, that is to say if I'm going to be gossiped about, you won't find
much excitement in what I do in private. I live a simple, almost boring
life, the entirety of which is in service to and engineered to support
my promise and
to write two of these
every week for the rest of my life.
So if I am going to be talked about, if I'm going to be gossiped about
behind my back, here's the only worthwhile thing to say about
he marshals his
in his day to day conversations, and he even writes some of them down -
and when we read what he writes down, we get our own
as the vehicle for ie as the possibility of our own
This truth about
may not make it into a supermarket checkout line tabloid's gossip
column. But it's actually the only decent dirt on me