I have a huge problem with talking about people behind their backs around campus. I’m not trying to spread rumors, but I get really excited about spilling tea to friends and it quickly spreads. Why is it so hard to keep my mouth shut?
Living on a small campus means two things: everyone knows everyone and everything. If you only tell five people and each of them tells five people … well, you get the idea. Moreover, with social media and anonymous chatting apps, rumors can spread very quickly.
You’re not alone in your excitement to spill the tea. Recent studies show that the average person spends about 52 minutes a day gossiping. Psychologists suggest that humans have been wired to gossip for survival since prehistoric times – it’s the way we strengthen social bonds, determine who is trustworthy, and learn news. But our genetic wiring doesn’t excuse putting others down.
Try swapping negative thoughts for positive ones; for every person you want to gossip about, think of one good quality they have. Assume that whoever you are talking about could likely find out what you said about them due to our small campus. Unless it’s something you’d be okay with them hearing, consider not saying it at all. Tell your friends about your goal to stop gossiping so they can help you. On the other hand, don’t bottle things up. If you need to get something out of your system, try calling a trusted sibling, parent, or mentor back home since they don’t have a connection to the involved parties.
Finally, remember how gossip about others impacts you. Ask yourself if you really feel better after trashing people or if it just leaves you feeling unfulfilled. Gossiping may provide short term joy but often is draining in the long run. Remember how it will affect your social life. The friends you gossip to are likely concerned that you’re gossiping about them behind their backs. If they view you as untrustworthy, you’ll no longer have friends to gossip to, so that’s one way to solve your problem.