“Fire and swords are slow engines of destruction, compared to the tongue of Gossip.” ~ Richard Steele
“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” ~ Will Rogers
A couple of nights ago The Music Man was on TCM. We tuned into it just as one of my favorite songs “Pick a Little, Talk a Little” started. Professor Harold Hill is trying to get some information about Marion the librarian. He’s a con man, and she’s a target who can help him achieve his goal. The song is so great because Meredith Wilson makes the women dishing dirt on Marion sound like a flock of chickens; “Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep, cheep cheep, talk a lot pick a little more.” The thing about the women is that they think they know all about who Marion is and what she’d done, but, of course, they’re wrong. And their gossip is potentially destructive. But it’s a musical comedy, so everything turns out right in the end.
That song was just another example of things I’d been thinking about, how negative attacks, particularly in all kinds of media, erode society. It prompted me to write this post.
I’ve never liked gossip. I can’t say that I’ve never done it. I’ve said my fair share of negative things to and about people. After all, I’m human. However, acknowledging that fact does not make me proud, nor does it make me feel good when I’ve done it. In fact, it feels corrosive to my soul when I say nasty things about people. If it makes me feel bad, I wonder what is going through the heads of people who troll public figures and spew nasty comments about them as if it’s their life’s work. Do they think it will make them feel superior, or good about themselves? If my father was right, that is exactly what they think. But they’re wrong. If I attack another person, it damages me as much as it does them, maybe more.
Since the advent of social media, gossip seems to have become more prevalent. We’re no longer gossiping across the backyard fence. Nope, we can now throw nasty comments at people we don’t even know while we think we’re remaining anonymous. Some people wear their corrosive opinions like a badge. All the hate language online shows me that self-hatred is an epidemic that we need to address. It’s as damaging as any virulent disease that attacks the body.
I often ask myself what can I do about this epidemic? The only true cure that I know of is for each person to clean out their own dark corners. I know from personal experience that it’s scary to look into those dark places. I’ve been attempting to love myself for fifty plus years and though I’ve come a long way, there are still times when that ugly self-hate demon rears its ugly head. When my self-hatred is triggered I’ve learned to take a deep breath and ask myself, “What am I supposed to be learning from this?” Then I get out my journal and write. Writing helps me figure out what is truly going on inside my head and heart.
This may sound naïve, but to stem the tide of hatred in the media, I ignore the articles or string of nasty comments that come through my feed. Oh, man sometimes I’m almost drawn in by those tantalizing headlines. I know, I’m just one potential consumer, however, if enough people get fed up with all the negativity, we will make an impact.
Part of the reason I decided to stop reading stories aimed at ripping someone apart is that I want to preserve the ground I’ve gained to become a happier person. Reading negative stuff makes me feel out of sorts. In fact, the other day after consuming lots of news, I yelled at Barry for some innocent remark he made. I knew immediately that I wasn’t angry with Barry. Nope, it was misplaced aggression. I’d fallen into the trap of consuming negative news.
Gregg Braden, an author and scientist I follow, marries science with spirituality. In a recent interview he said that scientific studies have shown that when we observe something happening, our brain thinks it’s happening to us in real time. So, if we’re watching movies containing brutal violence, it’s as if we’re either the perpetrator or victim of the violence. If we’re watching a sporting event, it’s as if we’re running on the court, or the field with the other athletes. Conversely, if we observe someone doing kind and loving things for others, it’s as if we are the beneficiaries of those kind deeds. Our brains and hearts are sponges. They take in everything that goes on around us. Knowing that makes me much more careful about the media I consume.
Sometimes when I’m writing this blog I feel like I get really preachy. I don’t want to do that but I do want to share what I’m thinking, because maybe I’m not the only one who’s questioning the situation I’m focused on that week. And as I learned from my father, asking questions is the beginning of learning something really important.
Truthfully, I don’t have any blanket answers about how to stop the hatred that seems so prevalent right now, except to keep working on being as loving as I can be. Maybe I’ll help someone absorb the kindness I’m dishing out.
Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I hope it’s spring where you are and you can enjoy the flowers and warm weather. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, I hope you get to see a splash of fall colors to dazzle your senses.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Only Jenna joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, instead of traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.
The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.