Throughout the Bible — namely the New Testament — God calls the idea of gossip unrighteous. As Christians, most of us understand that gossip isn’t a behavior we should be engaged in, but why?
Gossip is defined as “personal or sensational facts about others,” or a “rumor or report of an intimate nature.” But it can also be speculation about why a person made the choices they did, what might happen to them or those close to them, or any number of things that do not directly affect the sharer.
By gossiping, we not only become disingenuous, saying things we probably would not venture to say to a person’s face, but we also hinder the relationships around us. We put a barrier between ourselves and the person about which we’re speaking, knowing that we are perhaps spreading information that is not entirely accurate or simply providing commentary we wouldn’t say to that person directly. (Additionally, if word gets back around to the person about whom you gossiped, you’d be in hot water.)
Perhaps a less obvious side effect of gossip is snuffing out potential for real connection between you and the person to whom you’re speaking. If you were not discussing other people, you could be discussing your own lives, getting to know each other better. You could be sharing your dreams, fears, likes, dislikes, funny personal anecdotes — but instead you are focused on analyzing another person’s life who is not present. By doing this we miss out on the opportunity to form real and lasting friendships built on strong connections and understanding of one another.
The next time you are tempted to gossip, ask yourself if it is kind, if it is necessary, and if it’s worth the opportunity cost of true connection with a friend who is sitting next to you.