I was having a debate about social media the other day with a non-user (yep, there are still some in the world), and he gave the example of his girlfriend as the main reason he didn’t want to join any social networks. Apparently, he felt that his girlfriend turned into a huge gossip the moment she got her Twitter and Facebook accounts. When she finished school last year, she signed up for the networks as a reward for not letting herself get distracted…
Now, his girlfriend has become a big ol’ chatterbox, going on about people’s business day after day and the worst part? He had to hear about it all the damn time. He also found out the day before that she told a “bunch of strangers on Twitter” about the last time he fucked up. He wasn’t having a good day.
I instantly made his day worse when I said in response, “hate to burst your bubble honey, but your girl was a gossip long before she went online…”
The debate turned into an argument…and here’s mine:
Social media doesn’t change a person any more than a violent movie or heavy metal album causes people to go out and commit murder. The gossip girl already existed, she just found a new way to send and receive it.
So why does he think social media turned his girlfriend into a gossip? Why did the men (and some of the women present) agree with him? I don’t know. What I do know is that if a person wants to talk shit about people, they’ll do that via BBM, telephone, email, GChat, or by smoke signal…they’re going to want to talk shit and they’ll find a way to do it.
If she’s talking smack about people online, then trust that she was the girl who talked shit about other girls in the bathroom when they were skipping second period. Before social media, she did it via email/phone/text. Before that, it was her pager, and long before that that, she was the girl who traded secrets on the playground while other kids traded lunches.
Having been a victim of gossip at a very early age (you wouldn’t believe me if I told you), I’ve always been slightly averse to trading in information. Do I talk shit about other people? Mostly idiot 3AM Girls that I know, but the run of the mill gossip: who is sleeping with whom, financial status, mental health, physical health…nah, those aren’t my stories to tell.
This inclination to not to tell other people’s stories without their permission (ahem, which is how I operate this blog) led to a lot of people telling me where their bodies are buried. Why? I’m pretty much a vault; they know if they explicitly state that it’s to go into the vault, it will stay there. When they’ve told me stuff that would make great material for this blog, I have asked them “can I write about this?” Sometimes, they’ve said yes, sometimes they’ve said no.
So, why are some PEOPLE (I know gossipy men as well as women) inclined to gossip?
Information is power. It’s simple as that. If I’ve got shit on someone, I effectively have power over him or her; depending on how deep the shit is, I can ruin a reputation, break up a relationship, or get someone fired. That’s some pretty heavy shit. If I decide to become that girl on the playground and deal in information, I can upgrade my info to something with more value…something with more weight…something that will definitely do more damage.
“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Honey, your girlfriend wasn’t “turned into a gossip” by Twitter or Facebook (or Google+ if you really want to try to stretch it), she is just being small-minded and has found a better information bank. She can now trade in real-time, have photographic evidence, and sometimes video to sweeten her deals. She can send broadcast messages to five or six people at a time using her phone or laptop; her range has increased and her efficiency has improved. A few years ago, it would’ve taken her an hour to share that tidbit of information with those five or six people. Now she can do it in 30 seconds and in 140 characters…from her phone.
But your bigger problem is that she’s gossiping about YOU. Bedroom stuff, relationship stuff, life stuff (like your bank balance?); these are the fears. You don’t care about that trick down the street and what she did last night in the club, you’re worried about that’s she’s telling people about the last time you cried or couldn’t get it up in the bedroom (happens to everyone, really).
I told him I would address these concerns on the blog, so hopefully he’s going to read what I’m about to say:
YOUR GIRLFRIEND GOSSIPS…GET OVER IT.
I don’t believe that you can change a person; so if she’s a gossip, she’s gonna gossip. BUT you can try make sure your all your shit doesn’t end up online…after all, the internet’s not written in pencil. If she’s little miss TMI and everyone knows when she has a headache, a cramp, or a craving, then trust me when I say more than her BFF knows what’s going on in your relationship.
You can try asking for limits. Ask her not to share so much.
Or deal with the fact that there will be a picture of everything gift you buy her, every meal you go out to, and of course, emoticon-filled posts about her bad mood after every fight you have. 😦
You can fight about it, which will lead her to turn to her phone and post how, “insecure people can be. It’s not always about you.” and you’ll be back at square one.
So what’s it worth to you? Are you that private a person that you don’t want people to know when ANYTHING happens in your relationship? Good or bad? Or are you just pissed that people know about the bad and not the good? Like I said that evening, I sympathize with you. Even though I use social networks, I rarely discuss myself. If I do, it’s with a trusted few. Offline, there isn’t a single person who knows everything about me. You need to weigh out the good versus the bad, is this so serious that you can’t get past it? If it is, I can only suggest that your girlfriend post this as her new status message:
“Gossip Girl is no longer in a relationship”.*
*p.s. people will ask why. When she tells them, they’ll inevitably ask what were YOU trying to hide.