The first book I ever fell in love with was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. An important, yet static, character who often serves as comedic relief in the book is Mrs. Bennett, a mother of five young women. Austen describes her as “a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper… The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.” Obviously the business of my life is not to get any daughters married; however, I often think of the last sentence when I get excited about hearing gossip, or “news.” I am terrified that I myself am becoming a ‘Mrs. Bennet’.
Gossip is everywhere in our culture. Growing up, it was a key aspect of many of my favorite movies and TV series, especially as I got older and watched those whose target audience was teenager girls (Gossip Girl, anyone?). There are even entire news sites and channels dedicated to the “hot gossip.” My friends and I were talking about other people from the day I started first grade. Still, in my second year of college, I find myself getting excited when a friend starts a sentence with “You’ll never believe what so-and-so did now…”
So I’ve decided I need a change for the better. I’m going to reduce my ‘gossip footprint’ in this world. Here are the guidelines I’m going to try to follow, and if you’re feeling like a Mrs. B too, you can try them with me.
1. “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.”
Spoken like a true hero, Ice Cube. Sometimes all you need to do is sit back and think, “will what I’m about to say be kind? Will it be helpful?” If the answer to both questions is no, you’re probably about to spew some gossip.
2. Talk about actual news.
When I was a kid, I thought the news was boring. Now that I’m an adult, I realize that this world is so much larger than I ever imagined and everything that happens in it can and will affect me somehow. Thus, real, substantial news is anything but boring. Talk about the controversial topics. Engage in intellectual debates. Put down your phone and try to listen objectively to your friends’ opinions on the hot button issues of today.
3. Talk about the future.
Yours. Your friends’. The country’s. The world’s. Speculate. Imagine. Dream. Share your thoughts.
4. Talk about music.
Honestly, talking about anything you love is a great idea. I love hearing what other people are passionate about. It’s just that personally, one of my favorite things to discuss is music, because who doesn’t like music?
Hopefully after remembering these guidelines in my conversations, my friendships will grow and so will I. It may be harder to do than it sounds, but it will be worth it. “Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”–Eleanor Roosevelt