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The Lazy Conversationalist

By January 13, 20112 Comments

In November I posted a blog in which I cited the following statistic:

A study in the New York Daily News found that  “80% of normal conversations consist of gossip.”

Ever since I discovered that statistic I cannot get it out of my head! I think about it all the time in my conversations with others. Every time the topic drifts toward a discussion of other people (who are not present), I always wonder, “Is this the 80%?”

This statistic has not only convicted me about the subject matter of my daily conversations, but it has also led me to ask WHY my conversations so often center around people who are not present.

As I thought about this and discussed it with my mom one day, she made the remark that people feed on others’ drama because their own lives aren’t interesting enough to them. I think there’s some truth to that. Whenever I’m in the car with my husband and the conversation hits a lull, I immediately turn the conversation to whatever drama is happening in our friends’ or family’s lives at the time: “What do you think about so-and-so’s girlfriend?” or “What do you think is going on between those two family members?”

I should add that my husband HATES when I do this, and makes this clear by asking, “Why do you care so much???” But I just can’t seem to stop myself. It’s so easy!

And therein lies the answer, at least part of it, to my gossip problem. The reason my conversation drifts into the realm of gossip is that it’s easy. Creating quality conversation in which I am getting to know my spouse or discussing spiritual matters with him takes effort. Plus, it’s not always entertaining, whereas drama, by its very name, is.

My temptation to gossip also betrays a discomfort with silence. Rather than sit in silence, I create noise and distractions to keep my attention occupied. Not because silence between me and my husband feels particularly uncomfortable, but because I almost never allow myself to be silent. I always have the radio on or the t.v. blaring, rather than allowing myself to be alone with my thoughts and prayers. Why? Because silence confronts us with the thoughts and fears from which we have been running. It forces us to think and process the aspects of our lives and faith that challenge us. So whether I fill the air with music or low quality conversation, I am fleeing from the hard working of being still and absorbing the deeper things of life.

In summary, gossip is ultimately about laziness. Rather than actually get to know my husband and enjoy his company, I take the easy route out and talk about others. And like my mom said, it is also easy to gossip about others when your own life isn’t very interesting to you. Which begs the question–What am I doing that is exciting or interesting to me? How is God using me or changing me that makes me want to tell others? What vision has God given me that I want to spread around? What mission has God dreamed up for me and my husband, and how are we pursuing it as a team?

Not every day of the Christian life is going to be an action-packed one, but if you don’t have answers to those questions then that might also be a clue. As followers of an infinite God we are never lacking in adventures, so the temptation to gossip certainly challenges me to wonder if I am missing out on some of the abundant life God has for me.


  • Kelsey says:

    I just had this conversation with my husband of 7 months last night! He loves to think and mull over doctrinal issues, rarely listens to music, and dislikes TV. I’m constantly thinking of what I’m doing next, and when I’m not doing, I want to relax and not think about something challenging. My husband gets frustrated that I don’t want to talk about something substantial–I tend to talk about how my day was, etc–and challenges me to really think about what I’m reading in scripture. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one in this struggle with “lazy thoughts,” and I feel encouraged to keep pursuing Godly thoughts and conversations! So thanks 🙂

  • Um wow. I tested this theory these past few days and found it to be so true! I bit my tongue each time I thought to fill the silence with a topic about someone else and oh my! I didn’t speak much this weekend – much to my embarrassment to admit. But, this did end up leading to a great “what is God teaching you lately?” conversation with my husband. We talked about ourselves and God for a good hour Saturday night – in part I’m sure to the fact that I wasn’t filling up the silence with drivel about others.

    Thank you so much for this challenge – it really helps me to stop and think and hold my gossiping tongue.

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