Here's the thing: if you are going to say something bad about someone, just say it to her face. No one wants to here that you don't like her from her best friend's camp friend's cousin's coach's little sister. It's not flattering.
If you don't like my hair, hate my singing, or just think I suck, honestly, just tell me directly to my face. (None of this would be true, obviously, as I have awesome style, amazing talents, and I'm a spectacular person...)
If you're going to tell everyone but myself that I'm in madly love with you, yet lack the courage to tell me to my face, do you really think it's true? Do you think that by spreading these oh so false rumors you're making yourself look good, making me like you more, making the world a better place? We're going to say no on this one.
If you think it's a great idea to tell all your closest and most distant friends that I have secret orgy parties for the prettiest girls I know, you're probably wrong. Creative, yes, intuitive, not so much. True, I frequently have the most beautiful girls in the world sleep in my basement; Why? you may ask, because they are my closest and dearest friends, is that allowed? Again, I'm going to say, si, oui, ja-- who doesn't love a good slumber party?
The thing about gossip is that you can only handle it for so long. There's only so much to say. Whether it's deeply honest, exaggerated, or completely false, it gets a bit old, a bit tedious, a bit too relentless. And if it's not true, why are you even saying it? Will people like you more? Maybe temporarily. Will you get something out of it? Most likely not. Are you making someone else feel good, smile, laugh? Tearing someone else apart doesn't make you any better, any stronger, any wiser.
I'm not trying to pledge my innocence. I, too, have been guilty of copious amounts of gossip and overly embellished girlish chitchat. I may have said a thing or two about your nails, your driving skills, your ideas.
Suddenly I’ve become more conscious of what I say and to whom I say it. If I really don’t like something, think something’s wrong, I’ll tell you. I look back to my middle school days and remember the novel thrill of starting rumors, just for the creativity factor and maybe a little bit for the popularity.
But we’re not thirteen anymore. Making up stories, talking badly about other people just for the sake of conversation is ridiculous, unnecessary, and unacceptably rude. How little are you doing with your life that you cannot manage to talk about yourself, about the other people in the conversation, and not have to bring in a third party? How bored are you with your life that you feel the need to make up stories about others, make everyone else believe they’re true, and just sit there and giggle.
And how weak are you that after creating these fantastical embellishments on reality you lack any courage to mention them to the protagonist of your delightful anecdotes?
In Judaism, we have a concept called לשון הרע “Lashon hara,” literally meaning “evil tongue.” As the most serious of sins, we are advised to fight against it, never gossiping, slandering, or disrespecting any human being. Jewish or not, this human value exists within all of us—who are we helping by creating malevolent words, cluttering our thoughts and speech with them when we should progress onto greater concepts and improvements in the world?
It’s time to start telling the truth, enjoying our own lives without creating misnomers about others. In order to better ourselves, better society, better the world, we need more concern with real problems and real people rather than this slanderous gossip in which we frequently feel the need to engage. What if every time we opened our mouths to say something disrespectful about someone else we twisted our words around, praised this person, or just changed the topic of conversation completely?
And truthfully, if you have something to say about me, I’d prefer you just say it to me.