The Victims Of Wagging!
They came to tell your faults to me,
They named them over one by one;
– “Faults” by Sara Teasdale
“Look at her! Walking as if she does not know she is the reason that family has been destroyed!”
Why do people choose to discuss things that they actually have no business with? Let us be honest, we have all gossiped at some time or the other, because, in truth, anytime you talk about anybody to another person (good or bad, true or false, positive or negative), you are, in fact, gossiping.
Now we all know that it is hard to avoid talking about others, so my question might not make sense. I will rephrase: Why do we insist on spreading malicious gossip? I believe that, most times, even if you have verified the veracity of the “scandal”, no one else has to know. Truth is, we all have dirt and I’m pretty sure we don’t want the whole world knowing about our dirt. So if we try to cover ours, why expose another person’s? Worse yet, we never really know what the true circumstances are. I always say, no one is as bad as people say they are, some people are much better, others are much worse. Most times when we start to spread stuff about people, we don’t realize the damage we are causing. We don’t understand the true import of our actions.
Imagine this scenario, you are walking into your office one bright sunny Monday morning, happily whistling because, for the first time in a long while, you have had a weekend great enough to ensure that you don’t mind going to work. As you make your way past open doors and other people’s cubicles, you slowly come to the realization that very few people are returning your cheery greetings and the ones who are? Well, let’s just say it feels like someone begged them to be nice to you. You gradually begin to take note of the cold stares that are coming your way. The phrase that goes through your mind is cliché, but appropriate: If eyes could kill… Your reaction is immediate and subconscious, your head drops slightly, your eyes direct themselves to the point just above every other person’s eyes, your step falters slightly, then quickens in a bid to carry you to your cubicle and to privacy (of sorts).
You don’t know what is going on, but you want to get away from those eyes, and, try to deny it as much as you can but, we all know that amongst the myriad thoughts that are running through your mind as you make that seemingly everlasting trek to your seat, topmost in your mind are the questions, “What did they hear? What did I do?”
All I’m trying to illustrate here is the fact that the mere thought of the possibility that a rumor is being mongered about you can sometimes be enough to efface your confidence. The truth is, malicious gossip is often times hawked in a manner that tends to paint the situation in the worst possible light. Sometimes you hear what is being said about you and wonder if it is really you they are talking about or just someone that happens to share your name.
Some form of gossip can be so cruel as to have the victim thoroughly afraid to be seen in public. Victims have been known to change offices, schools and even go as far as to quit the town entirely, just because loose tongued folk decided that the downfall of another human being was of more value than the work at hand. Most victims of gossip usually end up unsure about themselves, unable to face major decisions and painfully introverted. They have low self-esteem and almost no sense of self worth. They tend to begin to model themselves after people’s expectations (or what they think are people’s expectations) for them and totally lose their sense of individuality.
In extreme cases, gossip has been known to lead to social ostracizing. Because humans are quick to judge others while blatantly disregarding their own shortcomings, there is a tendency for society, after hearing a supposedly evil habit another individual possesses, to turn said individual into a pariah. People begin to avoid the victim, snide and, oftentimes, rude remarks are made in the victims hearing in an attempt to make the victim feel bad. Sometimes such a phenomenon can lead to one being relieved from their occupational duties or suspended from school. In a case I know of a friend of mine was expelled in his final year of college because a student spread a rumor that he cheated on his finals. He had to leave the US for England and start again and it wasn’t till he was three years out of college and working that the school discovered that he had been expelled in error. That is some one’s life that was messed with. It goes beyond a simple prank or a “little joke” and qualifies as destruction. When he was telling his story, he mentioned how, for a long while, he was contemplating suicide because he did not know how he would face his parents.
“I was supposed to walk up to the people that had struggled to put me through school in the States for four years and tell them that their money and belief in me had gone down the drain. I did not know where to start from, how to frame it, what was worse was the fact that it was untrue and I had no way to show that I was telling the truth. I got so depressed that sleep became impossible and I was placed on anti depressants and I had to be prescribed sleeping pills. One day, I emptied my prescription bottle down my throat. I’d be dead now if my housemate had not come back early.”
That was the end of the interview I had with my friend. If I put down everything he went through at the hands of the Student Disciplinary Board, the Dean of his Faculty and even at some point the University Police no one would believe that his three months of horror started off because some dude who sat before him in class decided to tell every one else that the only reason the Nigerian boy would graduate Summa Cum Laude was because he had cheated.
The beautiful thing is that, because we are Nigerians, we tend to have rather thicker skins than other nationalities and thus we tend to bounce right back from the whole gossip thing. Be that as it may (gosh I really detest that phrase), I am still of the opinion that all gossip is evil and frankly, if it is unsavory gist about another person and it really has nothing to do with you, I believe you shouldn’t even be a party to the gist. I mean, how does it change your life, really?
So as always I remind us TCK’s to do the awesome walk and scream: DEATH TO WAGGING TOUNGUES!! (Ahhhh! I love the husky timbre in my voice when I say wagging! Stay Beautiful.)
I laughed aloud when they were done,
I knew them all so well before, –
Oh, they were blind, to blind to see
Your faults had made me love you more.
– “Faults” by Sara Teasdale