Gossip is such an ugly word.
It should be a swear word.
We all have to face it at one time or another; in the workplace, at school, in our friendship groups but most commonly, among people we don’t even know.
In fact, it's the ones we never meet or even cross paths with that seem to take the most delight in gossiping on subjects about which they have no knowledge.
It’s a horrible past time that so many of us can easily be drawn into.
And not only do we ourselves feel the need at times to chat 'harmlessly' (or so we think) about other people’s lives, but we part with money to actually read glossy magazines filled with wonderful juicy titbits about the lives of celebrities.
The problem is, gossip is not harmless. It hurts. It leaves you feeling vulnerable and a little uncertain of who you can depend on and who you can’t.
It makes you question how you have represented yourself and why would people want to pull you down.
It breaks up marriages, it can lead to depression, it ruins friendships and can even be the underlying reason behind people taking their lives.
Gossip is simply a form of bullying.
But this form of bullying takes place over a cup of tea, or a chat in the pub or is sold to you with big, bright, flashy headlines and pretty photos.
Talking about someone behind their back is no different to getting on social media and having a crack at a person in the public arena.
And how, in this day and age, when bullying is one of the biggest issues of the moment, can magazines and online forums be allowed to make up stories and blatantly lie about individuals?
Have we now come to a point where there is no need for even a hint of truth to be the underlying place from which a journalist begins a story?
As long as we keep reading this rubbish, and we all know it's rubbish, we keep feeding the monster that allows us to think that gossip is not a big deal.
We are actually condoning this style of reporting by giving it the time of day.
But this is not something we have no control over.
As a society we can, in our own communities and families, refuse to be part of conversations that bring others down or speculate over matters that don’t concern us.
We can walk away when a conversation turns from a healthy catch up to analysing other people’s lives.
And finally, we can walk past those stands at the supermarket checkout and refuse to be lured in by the saucy headlines and secret photos taken under the cover of darkness.
- If you need help call Lifeline 131114