On Gossip

I used to love gossip but now I hate it.

There isn’t anything really special about me. Maybe sometimes I’m enthusiastic and charismatic and funny in a weird, cynical way, and my naïveté is charming at some points. But when I would talk to other people about other people, that gave them a real reason to talk to me, too.

Their incentive was to listen to what I had to say, because it was at the expense of someone else. They gained something small from whatever I said– they gained insider knowledge, and secrets, and the feeling of being included in something special.

I loved to gossip because it made people pay attention to me. Maybe they wouldn’t like what I was saying, maybe it would fuck up my friendships with other people, maybe other people would think that I was just being a bitch… But it didn’t matter because for the 30 seconds it took for me to tell someone that so-and-so had hooked up with so-and-so, their eyes were on me. I had their undivided attention. I wasn’t unimportant or someone to look over… Gossip made me matter.

Gossip gave me something. It made me not boring. People would come to me, expecting me to know stuff about something else. They needed me, for whatever reason. And it felt good to be needed. It made up for what my personality lacked.

It would work both ways, too. People would come to me and they would tell me things they knew. “Have you heard this about her?” “Can you believe he hooked up with her?” They would message me on Facebook, call out to me in the hallways, pass me notes during class. This might be exaggerated, but I knew everything about anyone that mattered. They trusted me, which was foolish.

I hurt some of my good friends through gossip. One of my best friends in high school liked a guy, and I tried to help her along by telling the guy in a very subliminal way. That, of course, backfired on me. When I was drunk, I told one of my guy friends to ask another one of my best friends to the prom because I wasn’t sure whether she would have the confidence to ask anyone.

I was a bitch. Those were bitchy things to do. But I did those things for attention, and so people would care about what I had to say. It’s not an excuse, but it’s an explanation.

This past year away at college was hard… I tried to learn from my mistakes and not gossip about others. I tried to be funny and nice and appealing. But I didn’t have gossip on my side anymore, and I didn’t know how to be a person without it.

This summer, something awful happened to me. Or rather, I did something awful. And I didn’t want anyone to know about it, so I didn’t tell anyone for about a week. I couldn’t make myself talk about it. I didn’t want anyone knowing what had happened, because all they would do was ask me about what had happened, and I didn’t want to talk about it. I was ashamed, and it was none of their business.

Then all of a sudden people started asking me, “I heard you guys broke up! What happened?” when I hadn’t told anyone. And it hurt, because what right does anyone have to ask me that? Don’t I get to choose what goes on in my life? Or who I get to talk to about it? It hurt because I hadn’t told anyone, which means that he had…

After experiencing the repercussions of my gossiping in high school, I tried to be better. I tried not to talk about others when it wasn’t my business. But this was awful. It was terrible. It was worse… because it had happened to me. And it made everything hurt more. And it still hurts

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