Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people. —Socrates
After all these years of the same old hobby, it’s a wonder they don’t suffer from professional gossip laryngitis. Every afternoon without fail, when the weather is good enough, they gather on the same bench, monitoring who goes in and out of the tenement, who they’re with, what they’re doing. On occasion, they slightly tilt their heads, as if they feared a lip reader perched up on a tree branch nearby. You hear the sarcasm in their tone, even when they manage to keep it down. The mockery, the arrogance, the righteous indignation. Oh, what a shame! What an outrage! What an embarrassment! It’s when the noise dims that you know they moved on to what even they understand they should not be discussing; at least not in public.
They don’t read, except maybe the odd prayer book and the religious calendar, to check if they’re allowed to wash, if they should lent or do anything special. Their tired eyes are so sharp they can spot a stain on a coat from twenty metres away. The hearing, that the always moan is worsening, miraculously betters when strange noises are picked up from other people’s flats. They have all the stereotypes nailed down. All except their own, of course.
Gossip is something society perpetuates even when generally irritated by it. Even those who hate it feed the rabid monster.
This becomes apparent on every “side-dish” Daily
Bile Bait Mail article, laden with pics taken seconds apart, of celebrities trying to enjoy a day out at the beach. The comment section seems to scream quit this already, you superficial pricks working for this exasperating rag. They don’t understand that the marketing ploy is not based on the righteousness or meaningfulness of those “stories”, but on the number of clicks the publication manages to attract, no matter how. By bothering to sign up and comment, these people are participating, indignation and all, to the success of said rag and its paparazzi vultures.
What the rest of us need to understand about gossips it’s that their habit is never about others, but only about themselves. If they want to find you a flaw, they will – and if not, they will make one up. To give just a few examples, here’s what can come out of the mouths of the very same people, based on your circumstances.
If you don’t care much about your physical aspect, you must’ve given up on yourself or you must be a waster. If your clothes are modest, you must be too poor to afford decent ones. If you look spotless every day, you must be a narcissistic, attention-seeking whore who neglects other duties while spending too much time in front of the mirror. You probably spend too much on yourself as well.
If you’re unemployed, you are basically a deadbeat and potentially hopeless. If you have a high paying job but don’t work many hours, or otherwise they don’t think your work is stranuous enough, you probably don’t deserve all the money you’re getting. If your other half works and you don’t, you’re basically lazy and are being kept by them. If you work and your other half doesn’t, you’re an idiot for sharing your wages.
If they think you do too much for your spouse, you’re an idiot. If they think you don’t do enough, they count the days until you’re (presumably) dumped. If you divorce your spouse, unless they do something terrible (in which case you’re an idiot for having married them in the first place), you’re probably selfish and promiscuous. If you stay with your spouse despite frequent problems such as arguments, you’re also hopeless idiot. And if your spouse treats you wonderfully, to the point of making them jealous, they must have someone else on the side, because you’re nothing too special.
If you’re too permissive in their eyes, your kids are miniature monsters running a mock doing whatever they like and will grow up to be no good. If you’re strict, you’re probably selfish and impatient and don’t love them enough. If you don’t work, you’re giving them a bad example by lacking ambition in life. If you work long hours, you’re not spending enough time with them. If you had them out of wedlock, you must be promiscuous. If you decide not to have any, there’s something wrong with you.
If you tell these people too much about yourself, you’re a loose mouth, which they associate with shamelessness. If you tell them too little or nothing at all, then you have something to hide. Either way, they’ll doubt everything that comes out of your mouth and find a way to twist it to fit their narrative.
You can’t win with them. People who strive all their lives to maintain a spotless facade don’t realise that no matter what they do, they will never achieve that. A spotless facade is even more fun for them to demolish than an easy target, who doesn’t make an effort to fend them off.