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.