Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Guess What?

Yesterday morning, having some time to kill, I went to a number of stores. I've been on a bit of a book kick lately, but don't like paying full price, so checked out the selection at a couple "gently-used" stores. At Salvation Army, I found an Oprah Book Club selection by Eckhart Tolle called "A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose" (I love how the book cover matches my template).

Though the cover price was $14.00, SA was selling it for $1.00. Though there were a number of passages that I skimmed because they didn't really interest me, there were a number of bits that got me thinking. Here's one:

"You are about to tell someone the news of something that recently happened. "Guess what? You don't know yet? Let me tell you." If you are alert enough, present enough, you may be able to detect a momentary sense of satisfaction within yourself just before imparting the news, even if it is bad news. It is due to the fact that for a brief moment there is, in the eyes of the ego, an imbalance in your favor between you and the other person. For that brief moment, you know more than the other. The satisfaction that you feel is of the ego, and it is derived from feeling a stronger sense of self relative to the other person. Even if he or she is the president or the pope, you feel superior in that moment because you know more. Many people are addicted to gossiping partly for this reason. In addition, gossiping often carries an element of malicious criticism and judgement of others, and so it also strengthens the ego through the implied but imagined moral superiority that is there whenever you apply a negative judgment to anyone."

This passage makes clear the appeal of talking trash about someone else, something I rarely do. Could it be that our parents were right when they said, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." I'm not saying that we shouldn't tell others if they are doing things that are bothering us (the co-worker who 86's every new idea you have, the parent who never calls, the partner who never wants to have sex during the day), just that it's hard to see the point of saying something about others that you wouldn't say to their face. In conversation, I like to ask others how THEY are feeling, how life is going for them, not what's going on with so-and-so.


Rocketstar said...

This is the reason why I always say, "If you want to keep a secret, do NOT tell another living soul. Not your mom, not your best friend not your wife, NOBODY. Secrets are power, power corrupts and humans are weak when it comes to power." Or something like that.

disestablishingpuritanism said...

That was a great passage you used there. Honestly, I feel gossiping is for the weak. I'm someone who wears his heart on his sleeve and yes, I've heard the old, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all." Every now and then, one has to truly stand up to the insults another delivers. Do this with tact. Smile and kill them with kindness. Eventually, this person might not like the reflection he or she sees from the mirror you're holding.

Narkissos said...

good point, although not too sure about gossipping strengthening your ego.....i think people gossip for cheap popularity cuz of small ego.......well that's just fay's opinion..........

Extra Ordinary Me said...

I'm not a fan of eckhart tolle... I've skimmed through his books and found them rather exhausting. But, yes, I think it's nice if we can avoid talking shit about other people IF it's something we would not say to their face. Some things do need to be said, but why burden ourselves with the negativity for no good reason. We are what we are, so let people be what they are too.

Timothy Smith said...

One could argue the weak egos belong to the group talking smack about others but making sure they exclude themselves from the vary group they just confirmed they are a part of.

I think people gossip due to a deep down want or need to be included or productive in conversation. The way they go about it may be flawed but the motivation is not sinister.

Whats the difference between you guys judging and bashing whole groups of people (those that shop at Wal-Mart, SUV drivers etc) and those that gossip about an individuals actions they do not agree with?

An elitist attitude with some gang-bang conversation that lends itself to ego-stroking is no more worthy then someone venting about their daily interactions with co-workers.

The last part of the guys quote you guys are just as guilty of as the people you bash. Ego-stroking by using a claim of superiority.

If you guys have nothing nice to say why post "if you have nothing nice to say" in a negative post about others actions?

Kinda lame eh?

People gossip because we all have a need to gain acceptance with other humans. With a lack of anything informative to say we reach for anything that might gain such acceptance from others.

We are all social creatures and judging others while excluding ourselves from the bashing of the day is the same thing you guys are complaining about. You do it to feel better about yourselves.

How is that any different then what others do? Maybe its your egos that need to feel Superior as well but you feel you are exempt from your judgment simply because you are "better".

Maybe you guys should be the ones looking in the mirror once in a while instead of holding it for everyone else?

Just an idea.

Thomas said...

Rocket, that is, indeed, the only way to make sure your secret is kept safe (assuming, of course, you don't talk in your sleep).

PJ, I agree completely with your strategies though I probably don't smile as much as I should (it takes less energy to just have a non-plussed look on my face).

Fay, you may be right. Wasn't that a Billy Joel song?

Extra, I'm with you on Eckhart's writing. I bought The Power of Now a couple years ago and wasn't able to finish it.

Tim, I was wondering if anyone would note the irony of me judging people that gossip because by gossiping, they are judging others. Kudos to you.

It's only natural to talk about others when you're gathering with friends. People are free to make judgements about others in whatever way pleases them. I don't mean to necessarily bash that.

To be more clear, I generally refuse to explicitly call something "good" or "bad" in my day-to-day life. A friend called last night and told me that a man he lived with had a stroke and was in the hospital. I let him tell me what was going on, but didn't say, "Oh, that's too bad" or "I'm sorry that happened". That strategy of accepting what is, without judgement, works for me. It might not for others.