I’m nosy; mainly because I’m self-conscience and if I see two people huddled together talking it’s my immediate assumption that they are talking about me. Ok, so maybe I’m a bit narcissistic too but whatever. I’ve become aware of my busy-body tendencies and they have started to get me in trouble. I’ve inserted myself into a few conversations that I have come to regret because the information I have learned is knowledge I wish I didn’t possess…and that’s what happens isn’t it? Next thing you know you’ve learned that someone is having an affair, someone is about to get fired, someone is a shitty parent, and suddenly your perfectly acceptable professional or neighborly relationships are now laced with judgements and opinions.
Now obviously there is a time and place to insert yourself into situations. If someone is being hurt or is in danger, I would argue that you have a moral imperative to act. I’m speaking more to the daily gossip of life in this post; conversations that you invite yourself into, neighborhood gossip, and work related drama that we all know we would be better off excluding ourselves from, yet find it incredibly difficult to.
The lure of gossip is hard to resist. As humans we are wired to belong. Historically, acceptance into a group has meant survival in times of lack and unsafe situations. Joining a conversation where you and others verbally hulk smash the boss is socially looked upon with approval from peers and creates a sense of inclusion, thus fulfilling our need to be a part of a group in modern times.
But “being in the know” is making me anxious. Suddenly I’m uncomfortable with knowing things about people and it is affecting my happiness, especially at work. I believe I would be much happier if I could learn to mind my own business and stay out of conversations that are gossip driven. I should just simply stop inserting myself into conversations I wasn’t invited into. Seems simple right? Still, “water cooler gossip” is the stuff that keeps work from being a boring, monotonous daily grind and is really hard to refrain from at times.
Obviously gossip is not a useful allocation of our mental resources. While it might indulge our innate need to belong, it takes energy from our priorities. If my focus is on something that doesn’t concern me, then it’s not on something that does. As much as I love being part of the group, if the group is being mean spirited, what is there to love? Gossip is usually hurtful and rarely positive. I always feel immense amounts of guilt after, as I should, because usually nothing I have said was helpful or necessary. Gossip is not characteristic of the person I want to be and as someone who is actively working on simplifying their life, I must acknowledge that I should include some bad behaviors to my list.