Have We Been Trained to Spill the Tea?

Is Gossip Really a Hot Topic?

We all know that reading week served as a much needed vacation away from our student responsibilities and pressing deadlines. And if you’re as lucky as I was, it also served as a time to reconnect with close friends who study abroad in the realm of Ontario universities. I think we can all agree that any time there's a reunion, there's a necessity to catch up on the latest tea that’s been brewing in the lives of others. Usually, it’s harmless banter, but on the rare occasion I've found myself wounded by my own toxicity as my friends and I get carried away with a juicy conversation.

 Don’t get me wrong, I for one thoroughly enjoy a dramatic story that distracts me from my lackluster life of living at home with my parents… but I can't help but wonder why gossiping is so quintessential? I mean, it can’t just be me who has a guilt complex for engaging in judgemental behaviour. And yet I still find myself shamefully attracted to the art of toxic judgment despite it’s redundancy to my personal life. But then it dawned on me… maybe we don’t have agency in whether or not we engage in this toxic behaviour. When you think about it, every news article, magazine, and television show (yes, even the bachelor) that is targeted to our demographic has only glorified gossip culture. The commodification of journalism has convinced our society that gossip should be celebrated as a social norm. How crazy is it that we commonly bond with new people over discussing mutual dislikes? Or that when we run out of substantial conversation we resort to ‘the water cooler’ to talk about entertaining, non- essential topics with our friends and coworkers. Look, I don’t want to be an outdated Karen who is constantly looking for the worst in our generation, but I just know that the way to progress as a society is to question our social norms. After all, introspection is the only way to hold ourselves accountable for toxic judgment. 

Will we ever stop judging?

We all know that even when we try to act in good faith, our human nature can get to the best of us and gossip culture is inevitable. Oftentimes we feel obligated to chime in to the conversation in order to avoid feeling ostracized.  However, it’s important to take responsibility for our actions and ask ourselves why we communicate with each other this way.You may be asking yourself how it’s even possible to deviate from the conversation, especially in a large social setting. Let’s be real, It can be utterly uncomfortable to interrupt a flowing gossip circle with your close friends. I struggle with this myself as I honestly don’t know if there's a one answer approach to navigating these circumstances. I think the most important step is to be self aware when we are engaging in negative talk of others. Ask yourself if the conversation is benefiting you in the long run. At the end of the day you can only control your own actions and your best bet is to change the subject or walk away. Who knows, maybe some of your pals feel the same way and will appreciate the halt in conversation. If you’re more like me and you’d do anything to avoid confrontation there's the opportunity to point the conversation in another direction. This is a more subtle approach that allows you to take a positive spin on the subject by changing the perspective all together. 

If all else fails just remember what our parents once taught us: If you don’t have anything nice to say… DON’T say anything at all!