--- Proverbs 16:28
Gossip: idle talk or rumor, esp. about the personal or private affairs of others
Now, we're not ones to go 'round spreadin' rumors,
Why, really we're just not the gossipy kind,
No, you'll never hear one of us repeating gossip,
So you'd better be sure and listen close the first time!
--- The Gossip Girls, Hee Haw
Gossip. We all like to do it. It's titillating and gives us a heady sense of power to talk about people. It's so easy to fall into gossip with justifications like "you should know this so you know how to pray for this person." Especially in the South, where you can say anything about anyone if you follow it with "bless his (or her) heart."
But gossip is damaging. Someone told me something recently that was about fourth or fifth hand, about me. Something hurtful. I'm trying to ignore it, because (1) it's been through so many people that I don't know if it's even accurate that the supposed source said it, (2) it was said so long ago that the supposed source may have had a change of heart, and (3) the person who told me what was said seems to have a personal agenda that appears to involve driving a wedge between me and the supposed source, under the guise of watching out for my interests.
The Bible is not the only source for condemnation of gossip. A simple Google search turned up several articles on the negative effects of gossip. Here are just a few: The effects of gossip at work, The effects of gossip at school, and how gossip can destroy friendships.
This experience has taught me first-hand about the dangers of gossip, even well-meaning gossip. Now that that little piece of unreliable information is lodged in my brain, it is trying to fester and cause all kinds of problems. I'm praying for the ability to ignore it, quarantine it, and not let it infect my relationship with the supposed source or any of the intermediaries.
This experience has given me the determination to keep a better guard on my own tongue, so that I don't spread gossip or hurtful rumors. You never know what damage it's going to cause.