There's a saying that a number of groups (I've seen Catholic bloggers use it, and also Quakers) ascribe to when discussing another person: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
I like that statement. (And I am the first to admit I sometimes fail at it myself). I particularly like the idea of not sharing something about another person that it is not necessary for the hearer to know.
Yeah, this past week, I wound up in a couple situations where someone was telling me something about a third party, that if it was true (and I have no way of verifying, and really no desire to try to verify), certainly wasn't kind or necessary for me to know.
And it's one of those things - or at least, one of the "facts" I was told - that it's kind of hard to forget about as much as I might want to. I hate it when that happens - when you get something in your brain you really DO NOT WANT there, and then it gets hard to ignore.
People frustrate me sometimes.
I mean, it's one thing to pass on information that a couple that's been trying for a baby for a while is now expecting (unless, for some reason, they expressly asked the information NOT be shared): the information is true, it's probably kind for other people to know (especially, as I said, if the couple is open about it), and it could conceivably be seen as "necessary" because you might want to prepare to have a baby gift.
It's another to pass on what could be rumors about someone else's behavior.
I suppose part of it is that I am still a bit of a Pollyanna. I want to think the best of people, I want to imagine that people are on their best behavior and hearing something about someone I sort of looked up to that suggests they have feet of clay....I find that disillusioning. And I also find myself liking the person who delivered the information less, especially if they seem to enjoy (and there ARE people who enjoy that kind of thing) passing on something that makes another person look bad.
I don't know. I guess I feel like life is hard enough and there are enough things that will strike a person low, without other people gossiping about them.
I don't know if I'm ever the subject of gossip...the world being what it is, I probably AM, but I never hear of it, and most of the things people would pass around about me would be things that are either untrue or so minor that I would cop to them openly if someone asked me. But I don't like hearing gossip about others, and in some cases I'm not really in a position to say, "I don't want to hear this" and walk out of the room, which is what I will do when I can.
But yeah: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
(That phrase also works when you're giving advice or "advice" to someone. And yes, there's a difference between advice - which is asked for and desired - and "advice," which is the "I'm gonna talk and you're gonna listen" school of things. Advice would be, for example, me going to the doctor and saying, "I want to drop fifteen pounds" and the doctor saying, "Okay, I will write you a referral to a nutritionist and they will help you figure out an eating plan, and you could consider increasing your activity in these ways." "Advice" would be someone stopping me in the grocery store and saying, "Honey, do you REALLY think you should be buying cookies?")