Monday, January 09, 2006

News You Can Use

"Gossip is the opiate of the oppressed"--Erica Jong

"...Or is it just information that gives us temporary power with the capacity to make others temporarily uncomfortable?"--Wordgirl

Not that I'm advocating a cavalier attitude toward malicious innuendo. No sir...not me! I'm just saying that there's a difference between gossip and useful information. Between unsubstantiated whisperings and an eyewitness report. One is often mistaken for the other.

Does a secret die with you or is there one other person upon whom you usually unload your burden? Do you feel a sudden rush when delivering bad news about a third party? What is that about? Is there a difference between wondering aloud about Tom Cruise's sanity (and...hey...who HASN'T wondered about that?) and confiding to your spouse about a friend's upcoming divorce? For the record...anyone who asks me not to tell anyone (including Mr. Half) will get his/her wish 99% of the time.

My theory is that information is matter how terrible it is, and for one brief moment, you/we have the capacity to change the life of the person to whom you/we reveal this data, and that's a heady moment when you/we realize that fact. I don't think it makes us bad people...or even all that untrustworthy. It just makes us humans who struggle to maintain the balance between keeping a confidence and helping someone else understand what's going on.

I can keep a secret, people. Really, I can. I'm keeping some right now. Many are about me and more than a few are about others. Those will die with me because I can keep my mouth shut...or quite possibly...because I've forgotten them. (Sorry!) But I'll confess that I know the difference between information that MUST NOT LEAVE THE ROOM EVER!!! and something I can tell Mr. Half. What's more...I've found that blogging has helped me to keep confidential what needs to be confidential because all the stuff that doesn't really matter ends up spilling over into this website. In other words, the stuff that doesn't matter has helped me to hold sacred the stuff that does matter. This has been a public service

For the record, the human who knows the most about me on the planet is, in fact, Mr. Half. He also knows a great deal about the other people in my life and he's really wonderful about not spilling his guts after two or three beers. Second place goes to my sisters. Each one knows stuff about me that the other doesn't, but mostly they both know what matters. Vital info may very well be in their possession, but I trust them implicitly and so should you.

So...who do you trust with your secrets...or the secrets of others? If you could only tell one other person something that no one else could know...who would it be?


Blogger Ditsy Chick said...

My husband and my best friend. Otherwise, I like to say I tell people everything I can, because there are a few things I won't tell anyone. I feel I have to make up for keeping some of my own secrets. I am a great keeper of secrets.

There is a difference between information and gossip. I think of true gossip as petty and often unfounded. Damn office politics, but that's another story.

11:01 PM  
Blogger mrtl said...

Many of the "secrets" I hold are in disguise. They're really "someone's fear of confrontation." Granted, facing the fears will hurt those involved, but that doesn't change their right to know the truth. It pisses me off.

My husband is my confidante, as is my imaginary friend.

12:01 AM  
Blogger mrtl said...

p.s. Remember to vote for Wave of Modulation for The Best of Blogs - Blog as Art starting January 10!

12:01 AM  
Blogger The Gradual Gardener said...

My husband's a great person to confide things to, because you can get it off your chest, and due to the head injury, there's a good chance he won't remember it anyway!

To be honest I don't have a lot of things to gossip about anyway. I work alone, and I already know all my own secrets (like that number on the scale). It seems like co-workers are the most common source of gossip, at least that was the case when I used to work in an office.

4:57 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Great post. My husband is the one I trust with most of my secrets. He's a good listener and is good at putting things in "the vault."

Others may disagree, but I think that if one chooses to live in the public eye and appear in major motion pictures on the big screen for which he/she is paid $20 million a pop, and I pay $11 plus another $10 in popcorn and soda to see said films, then such persons have forfeited their rights not to have ordinary citizens speculate about their love lives and ask for their autographs in restaurants. This kind of gossip helps us (well, helps ME) rein in the tendency to gossip about the "real" people in my life.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

My Mom is my confidant. Although Hoop comes in a very close second. I think some people gossip and spill secrets because they're bored. They feel their lives aren't interesting enough and somehow it's easier to live vicariously through someone elses drama then to create your own and screw up your own life. These type of people piss me off to no end, but I'd be a fool to deny that they aren't around.

6:09 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

Definitely my husband, who is my best friend. He knows things about me that one one else knows and I've told him things about other people that cannot be told to anyone else ever. He's probably better at keeping secrets than I am.

6:24 AM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

Great post, Wordgirl.

If my mother were alive, it would be her first, without question. But because she's not, if there was only one person I could tell, I'd tell my husband. My best friend is a close runner-up and an honourable mention goes to my therapist.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Shrinking Violet said...

My siblings keep the best secrets. I would say The Man, but, God Love Him, he usually ends up blurting out by accident. Oh, The Kid can keep a secret to the ABSOLUTE GRAVE. He rocks.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Man, I love your writing!

My mother is the WORST at keeping secrets, so she's out.

Hubby's the best.

I try not to have too many though. Just keeps life easier.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Tuesday Girl said...

I would tell my father, he is so nonjudgmental and he is so comforting.

3:06 PM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

My poor husband, whether he wants to know or not. Bless him for always acting like he's hanging on my every word.

6:43 PM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

I think it's healthy to have "secrets," info you share with no one, providing of course, they're not major incidents that haunt you or affect you're ability to function. I'm not a person that believes "telling all" automatically creates intimacy or fosters stronger bonds. Sometimes telling all is hurtful or cruel or a burden to the listener. Share only that which you need help coming to terms with. And when people tell me not to share info with my husband, I generally won't.

As far as gossip is concerned, I hate it, especially when it's veiled under the guise of sharing "concern" for someone else. Lots of times people share gossip because they like to show they're "in" and you're "out." I think sharing gossip is an ego trip--people acting self-righteous AND taking that little power trip you alluded to.

6:47 AM  

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