Posts Tagged ‘talk’

When I was in grade school, we played this little “game”. The students stood in a semi-circle and it started with someone whispering in my ear something random. Something about “Jimmy has a new girlfriend. She had blonde hair and blue eyes”. There was more to it but I no longer remember what it was about.

The point was to whisper to the person next to you exactly word for word what you just heard and then by the time it got to the other side of the classroom, it was totally blown into pieces and hardly anything was accurate at all.

It was a lesson in gossip. Trying to show the class that gossip always loses the facts whenever its spread around. And probably the moral of the lesson was, not to do it.

Today, gossip is more popular than ever. The stories continue to be told and spread around but I believe that the same rule applies. By the time the story is finished being told, most of the important details have been grossly removed. And so the last of the people who hear these false stories believe in what they have just heard without any consideration that something might be missing or incorrect.

In the apartment complex where I live, gossip reigns supreme. (So does chaos for that matter.) I guess that is just the price that I pay because I live with a group of elderly people who honestly have nothing else better to do. They’ve lived their lives and now they are retired, so then now what are they going to do?

I tried to get a clear-cut definition of the word “gossip”. I would find out that even the definition of the term constantly changes and evolves. But a majority note remains the same. Its the talk about someone else’s personal and private life. And often times it is brought up through a lot of errors when it comes to the facts.

A person can talk another person about a third person without it being gossip. But it turns into gossip when it deals with the private lives of that third person, especially when the two people involved in the conversation has nothing to do with that third person’s life or situation.

Confused yet?

I can talk to my best friend, who lives in the West Coast, and tell them that my neighbor is in the hospital. And that would not be gossip. What would MAKE it gossip, would be to add details that are totally incorrect. Something like, “My neighbor got carried away by the EMT because they are so old and they were having a heart attack.”

The truth may be that they were taken to the hospital by EMT, but it turned into gossip when the untrue facts of having a heart attack become involved. We might never really know why that person was taken into the hospital. At least not for sure.

So that is the example that I have come up with to help explain the difference.

With that being said, I will repeat: I live in a place where gossip is spread every day & night!

I know some of you reading this will probably grumble, but I’ve gotten to the point where I just don’t like the weekends any more.

I will wait for the grumbling………………………… all done? Good.

There’s really not that much to do when your capabilities and opportunities are limited.

So a lot of the neighbors and myself stay at home during the weekends and it becomes really dull and boring. Until the point where my phone rings and its someone calling me. And that someone lives only about 50 yards away.

They ask how I am and what I have been doing. It is funny to me about those kinds of questions is that usually they already know the answer. And then they ask about my personal life. Those walls of mine immediately start to build.

The questions get more and more specific about certain people in my life. They are asking very detailed questions and are seeking very detailed responses. Not even a fraction of a second ago, they were asking how “I” was doing. It is like they truly don’t even care. They just want to throw that in there so it doesn’t sound so bad when they finally get to the questions that they’ve been really wanting to ask.

I’m left sitting there thinking, “Geez, thanks a lot!”. They really could care less about what’s going on in my life, unless it has something totally oozing with drama.

And from that point where I deny them any information about my friends, contacts, or colleagues other than “They are doing fine”, the level of intensity to their devious ways goes way up.

Its a fact that they don’t really KNOW who my friends and colleagues are. And it would take probably a year and a half of explaining why they are the way that they are, and why I am in contact with them. They don’t seem to have that kind of time to listen. So they switch it over to the subject of other people that we mutually know. Such as, other neighbors.

A statement or comment that is just general knowledge will be said. “They have left town again this weekend for the sixth weekend in a row.” And then it becomes a free-for-all on them telling me their opinions about how they think the neighbors should be staying at home during the weekends.

As much as it might be true that these neighbors are out of town a lot during the weekends, we have absolutely no idea as to why. And it really isn’t anyone’s business but their own.

Living in an area where the group of people have nothing better to do than talk about someone’s private life, sometimes can just suck.

They take what little information that they know and began to assume. Assumptions are lethal too. But that’s for another post. It goes along with the earlier post that I wrote “Things Aren’t Always What They Seem”.

Just because I am one of the youngest residents here, doesn’t mean that I get out as much as they would like to think. I don’t go around visiting with other neighbors just to collect information and get their scoop. 

Yes, I KNOW that these neighbors are going out of town a lot. But if you wanna know why, then you need to go and ask them why. Not call me up in the middle of the afternoon during the weekend because you are bored, and believe that I am going to know everything.

What truly prompted this post out of me was that this situation happened. Both on Saturday and on Sunday. I called one neighbor to ask for a ride to the grocery store and I had to sit through a list of questions about other neighbors for about an hour before I was even able to put in my request for transportation.

Two things about it both amuses me and offends me at the same time.

When the “conversation” was finished, I literally heard them say, “I didn’t used to be like this, until I moved here.” It sounded like they were trying to justify why they were wanting to hear gossip or involve themselves in gossip. In which I feel is pretty lame. If you did not used to be like this before, why did you even start??

And the second thing that just really offended me was that they told me that I was their source of news around here. What was worse, was the fact that they have noticed that I do not speak to them as much as I have in the past, so suddenly they believe that “something must be wrong”. That I must be going through a difficult time in my life at the present because they haven’t heard from me, or have had me come and visit them in their homes in such a long time. It is like it never has dawned on them that I saw the face of reality and saw that all they were doing was pumping me for information about the other neighbors who live here, instead of them going out and visiting with them and finding it all out for themselves.

So that’s my rant.

I will say that I am thankful that I am starting to learn the red flags about how the neighbors here gossip. It has caused me to change directions and whenever they are asking me about someone else, I am smart enough to say, “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them.” Believe me, after a few times of having to say that they quickly change their tune, as well as the topic of conversation.

Since the invention of the electronic mail and instant messages, the various ways of communication have been better and more convenient in times past. Or has it?

Nothing says it faster than typing up some random message and having it sent to the person it was intended for in less than a few seconds. Its quicker, its faster, its “instant”.

So then why is there so many problems? It is because of the absence of a real person in the flesh that you are supposedly corresponding to. A person can be as insignificant as the next one when it comes to dealing with communication via the Internet. Or they can be as large as any moonlit sky in the night.

We should all know by now that “faster” does not necessarily mean “better”. Not in this case. The Internet has reached its way to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The opportunity for them to sit down, write an e-mail, and then be on their way again has opened the doors to what I call, “Fast Talking”.

But there is a huge problem. Almost to the point where I would dare to say that the Internet is flawed. The messages we are sending to one another doesn’t always carry its point across. It gets mixed up and then havoc appears. That one message that you just sent to carry on your conversation, just turned into the first bullet fired of World War III.

And all of this happened inadvertently. Have you figured out why yet?

It is because you are talking to “nobody”. Actually, you are talking to no body.

A few nights ago, I was reading a message thread that got really heated. Several people were involved, but”no body” was there. And I could see, as the outsider of all of this mess just how it came to be. And then in the middle of it all, I read this post (paraphrased):

Without anyone there, to show body language or voice inflection, a person’s ‘tone’ can come off totally different from that person’s intention, depending on how the other person receives it and reads it. It becomes particularly difficult especially if one person does not truly know the other in which they are engaging in conversation.”

Okay that is grossly paraphrased, but still the point gets made. And I honestly could not agree with the statement any more than I do!

For years, I had been struggling in communication with a friend. Whatever I would say, I would receive back the answer, “whatever”. To me, that was just about as mean and cruel as it could get. I felt as if whatever I was telling them was only falling upon deaf ears (or eyes in this matter).

But as time went by, I started to get to know them better and better. Eventually, I would find myself in the same position of actually talking to them, using our voices to communicate. And then, with inflection, I heard them say “whatever”. Suddenly, it did not seem so mean to me. I knew what they were intending on communicating and I did not take it as personal as I once had.

Amazing, isn’t it? Something as simple as a voice that is missing from a conversation can totally turn the tide in which the waves have been crashing. One simple component of a voice. That’s all it takes.

We have got to be careful what we say, and just how we say it on the Internet. I have actually reached a point to where if I am writing an e-mail, I will go back and look it over. Not only will I correct any typos or grammatical errors (if I catch them), I will read it to myself and see if it sounds how I had originally intended it to sound. If I find just the slightest doubt within myself that whatever I wrote may not come across the way I would like it, I edit the whole passage.

I’m not saying that is what you must do. I am saying that is what I do. And a lot of the times, it works out better. I do still get snagged from time to time because I am still learning more about the person with whom I am communicating with. Commonly it DOES matter whether or not you know the person and how much you know them. If you’re a smart ass like I am and you are constantly using humor to express yourself, well… your humor often may be missed and the next thing you know you are on running damage control, trying to save yourself and the conversation from collateral damage.

Does anyone remember what it was like WITHOUT the Internet? With each day that passes by, many of this younger generation has no clue what it was like to have to either sit down and write a letter and affix postage. It was either that, or you would have to pick up the telephone and dial that person. At least then, you had voice inflection.

Now with cell and mobile phones with the capabilities to chat, send e-mails, and everything else in between- a majority of us still get caught up in this tricky and delicate situation of either misreading or being misread.

Personally though, when it comes to communication, give me the telephone and I will dial someone that I want to talk to.