Dear Jil, today I want to discuss with you that most infamous of human assassination technologies- gossip.
Gossip is a huge global economy, a big industrial franchise. It’s one of the biggest employers of labour. As I read about the rebasing of the Nigerian economy I was a tad surprised it didn’t enjoy sectoral privilege. The gossip industry employs millions of people, though I must confess most are volunteers without pay. Only the “last mile” workers, especially those in traditional media get paid. Others pay themselves with secret satisfaction! But the implication is that there are millions gainfully employed and dedicated to the ruination of others.
Gossip by nature is not about good news. It’s a gleeful elucidation of half truths filled with malicious intent. Gossip is bad news! Have you ever heard a gossip about how someone helped the poor? Doesn’t qualify as gossip! If you ever hear positive news as part of gossip it is either an intro to the real gist or used in contrast to highlight and underline the devastating central message. And talking about gossip intros, they tend to follow a formula; they have a construct. Once you hear words like, “I heard that…” accompanied by a dramatic downturn of the corners of the mouth. Which in turn is accompanied by Nigerian movie industry worthy slapping of the hands, there’s a gossip coming on! A gossip is like a bee pollinating flowers. She goes from nectar to nectar, collecting and spreading gist.
Gossip is an entire ecosystem. There are cadres of specialists and specialties. There are the worker bees. They occupy the lowest rung of the gossip food chain ladder. These are the evangelists. They go from station to station, from house to house spreading unverified news. (The senior evangelists perform miracles. They can turn water into wine!) Then you have the apostles. They set up gossip units, empower management staff and coordinate the structures. Then there are the business hub managers. They manage the gossip hubs- usually their residence. Then you have the logistics officers. They ensure the flow of gist to appropriate media channels. Then you have the analysts. They dissect the minutae of the lives of others to come up with fascinating insight. Then you have the creatives. Their job is to invent stories. It’s a higher form of lying, an art form.
The creatives are the most dreaded. They can script an entire movie from a rash of pimples: “She must be engaging in very active sex. That’s what created her hormonal imbalance hence pimples…”Of course she couldn’t be “getting it” from one source. Did you see how she smiled at John at the party? “I tell you she’s sneaky. How can she be cheating on Stephen? And so openly?… “Heard they’ve been dating secretly since uni. Poor Stephen. She’s been cheating on him since then… “Where did she get that dress she wore from? It’s expensive if you ask me! The price must be scandalous!… “And the shoes! Must have bought it at Chanel. Saw it on the runway. On the internet… “She has a sugar daddy I tell you! And she goes to church on Sunday. She’s just a pretender… “Her mum doesn’t know what her daughter’s been up to.
Good girl turned bad. And that her skirt!… “Surprised she wore it to work… “I mean, who wears THAT to work! She’s looking for something! “Must be sleeping with her boss too…or how did she get an official car. A young girl like that!… “You know these marketing girls! Up to no good. They’ll do anything for money… “Heard Chief closed his account. Must mean the affair is over. They close accounts once they’re done with her…” “Though more like when she’s done with them, considering she just moves on to the next man. That girl!… And all these from a rash of pimples on a poor girl’s face!!!
Of course by the following week a well known gossip magazine is going to run a banner headline: “LAGOS BIG GIRL RONKE IN INTERCONTINENTAL LOVE TRIANGLE. 3 MEN FIGHTING OVER HER (Stories inside). When you turn to the page referenced you’ll find just two paragraphs on the now “Lagos Big Girl”. And in the next edition of “The Top Forty Babes in Lagos” there you have Ronke as No. 25. It is then followed up in the next edition with “The Best Dressed Fashionistas”. Ronke is No. 29. Which is then followed up by “Big Girls Who Shop in Milan”. “Top corporate girl” Ronke is one of them.
The truth though is that the dress in question was given Ronke by her cousin who bought a size too small. She accidentally met John at the party. They did go to school together but he’s just a childhood friend. She’d been saving for her car and actually took a car finance loan. And she’s not in sales and marketing. She was in the middle of her menstrual cycle hence the pimples!
The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels…but to others are like deadly wounds (Pro. 26:22). Keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! (Psalms 34:13) Takes a spark to set off a forest fire. By our speech we can turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation (James 3:6) The greatest mistake you can ever make is to confide in a gossip. Gossips can’t keep secrets; never confide in blabbermouths (Pro. 20:19).
When I was in Law School, my old law professor had a quaint expression: Do not say they said said for when they said is called upon to say what they said said they said will not be able to say what they said said they said! In other words, stop routing rumours. Even if the rumours are true it doesn’t make gossip any less evil. If you want to lose your friend gossip about her. Gossip separates the best of friends – Pro. 16:28.
Stop the gossip. Don’t ruin someone’s life. Don’t partake in it. What do you gain?
Your mentor, LA.
© Leke Alder