(Originally a post in response to comments below) Hypothetical- over beers, the table starts trashing administrator flavor of the minute. Reality–this is work culture. Even if I am indifferent to administrator flava, the conversation usually starts to put me into a mindset that the place I work must be bad…which I have to actively counter in my head. Can you imagine in the middle of this trash talk – which is seen (I am culturally this aware) as sport, me saying “enough is enough”? Party comes to screeching halt.
It happens in a variety of levels, radiating from the inner sanctum of close friends to the global arena. But it is a sport. An active way most people bond…to find common enemy, to pass on tribulation.
In this context, it\’d be like saying, “Enough hacky sack in the hall.”
So my dad in passing says, “…after the car accident” My friend says, “You were in an accident? Why didn’t you tell me?” He shrugs, “Why? We don\’t talk about bad things.” It’s an alien mindset. Not a denial, just an understanding that shit happens and it’s not really worth talking about. Talking makes it worse, because the ephemeral gets prolonged in the retelling. This as opposed to talking to feel better. To find others agree. Talking to know your mind. I don’t think people gossip to be mean. It has a function. I understand this is a schism. A different way of dealing with adversity. But it is a very basic divide. And it’s good to know where the fissures are.
Brendyn’, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, 2004-05-16 20:41:17 – Of course people gossip to bond, I totally agree. When my friends and I get together, sometimes we talk about other people and their lives and what they’re doing as compared to ours. Usually we don’t talk on it long because it turns to discussions about our own lives. It’s a segway of sorts. However, I think the negative side of gossip comes when you have the mindset that you can gossip about people but they absolutely cannot gossip about you, because that’s rude. Accepting that people are going to talk about you is a necessity, because they’re going to, it’s human nature at it’s purest. It touches on the basic principles of human life: the need to feel like you belong. Gossiping gives people that sensation.\n\nI think also that gossip is gossip. It\’s slander that is said during a moment, and doesn’t necessarily reflect how a person truly feels towards another. I do respect your want to not talk about people, that’s perfectly fine. The type of person you are, very introspective and introverted, wouldn’t do that. That’s a trait that some see as good and others see as shy, who knows. I think, though, if you do disagree with someone because they’re crossing the line of “gossip” and pure rude insulting, then you should stand up for yourself. If what they’re saying makes you uncomfortable, removing yourself from the situation is a best bet. You’re smart though, so I’m sure what you’re doing as of now is what’s best for you. By the way, your blog is awesome, I’m so glad you started 🙂
Elouise Oyzon’, ‘email@example.com, 2004-05-16 20:41:17 – Thanks, Brendyn. Blogging is an interesting phenomenon. Beginning virtual conversations people known and unknown. (But maybe that\’s another blog…)
fivecats’, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, ‘http://www.livejournal.com/users/fivecats’, 2004-05-16 20:41:17 – (This is posted on my blog, along with an introduction that isn’t necessary here. Being on the free LiveJournal I’m limited as to what I can do for “extras.” Free is good; a lack of moveabletype features is annoying. Hope you don’t mind) When I was working on my first grad degree I asked one of my U of MD profs about this phenomenon in the department I was working in. Their response was simple: “When money isn’t the issue, Power is.” The idea being that in academia where everyone is either on an equal footing for pay and/or that the payscale is fixed to the point that you’re not going to make any more money due to job performance, then money is no longer something people will struggle over. (In a business environment, where salaries can be based on sales performance or on having the best “sellable ideas”, money is the thing people compete over.) I’ve been working as a contractor to the government for the past 6 years or so and the same have found that the same thing holds true there. Money is set on a standard government payscale determined by your position’s government rating. There’s some fluctuation due to longevity, but even then people can ballpark your salary pretty accurately. Without money to bicker over, with everyone on a known playing field, the next object to wrestle over becomes power. My observation is that power in these situations comes in two forms: Direct and Indirect. Management types have Direct power. They can tell people under them in the hierarchy to do something and be assured that it will either be done or repercussions will follow. \n\nPeople without that Direct power will often compete for Indirect power. Knowledge is a great source of Indirect power — having “dirt” on someone and then gossiping about it to colleagues gives the Gossiper the illusion of having some “power” over the person being gossiped about. By sharing the information the Gossiper appears to also be in a more powerful position amongst those without power — how did the Gossiper find out this information? If they tell the “right” people it could mean trouble for the person being gossiped about. I think gossiping is usually done by people who feel a need for some kind of power and will work to gain a semblance of power even at the expense of friends or colleagues. As a side note, I changed divisions almost three years ago and moved from working with scientists to working in the Office of the Director. Hovering that close to the Center of Power, the gossiping and backbiting was pretty nasty. About a year ago it worked out that I moved to another building, about a mile down the road or so. Initially I was concerned that by being so far out of the loop, physically, that I would miss something “important.” Instead, my job has become so much more comfortable and quiet. I\’m involved to the extent that I want to be involved (next to none) and am able to interact with people much more freely and easily now. You aren’t able to physically separate from the people in your department, but you can tell them you’re not comfortable with the gossiping and leave. Word will get around and while people may not stop gossiping altogether, they’ll at least stop while they’re around you. It doesn’t mean they won’t hang out with you any more; you\’re just asking that they respect your boundaries. Life *is* good.
fivecats’, ‘email@example.com’, ‘http://www.livejournal.com/users/fivecats’, 2004-05-16 20:41:17′, ‘”Blogging is an interesting phenomenon. Beginning virtual conversations people known and unknown. (But maybe that\’s another blog…)”Blogrolling makes this phenomenon very accessible on moveable type sites; the “friends” feature on Live Journal does the same thing. I think links on blogs are almost as interesting as the blogs themselves. Both show a side to the person and their thinking that we don’t see otherwise. I’ve entered into some interesting conversations with complete strangers via blogs. It\’s one of the ways of playing along with everyone else on the blogscape playground. (p.s. Your blog gets a nice mention in the intro to the entry above on my blog. Mind you, I’m read by so few people that I don’t think it will bring legions of new readers your way.)
elouise oyzon’, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, 2004-05-16 20:41:17 – Tom, I’ve added you to my blogroll. I like your stuff too. Count me a regular reader now.weez
Francois Lachance’, ‘email@example.com’, ‘http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance/jardin/html/blogTEI.htm’, 2004-05-16 20:41:17 – Continuing my little daily activity of reading and in some cases re-reading Weez Blog entries in pairs. Here the theme gossip and trash talk and the comments on bonding and blog rolling echoes with http://weez.oyzon.com/archives/000853.html (tracks) where the entry on community, intercourse, discourse, triggered some consideration of the proofs that matter. \n\nThe phrase “the ephemeral gets prolonged in the retelling” struck me because in some sense all retelling is itself ephemeral. And indeed fivecats (aka as Tom to Elouise) has reminded readers of the differential access to modes of broadcase by contrasting LiveJournal with MoveableType. One touchstone passage for me about any record and its empherality is a passage in the preface to Paul Monette\’s collection of elegies Love Alone. He writes: “[…] my hand grazed a white marble block covered edge to edge with Greek characters, line after precise line. The marble was tilted face up to the weather, its message slowly eroding in the rain. \’I hope somebody\’s recorded all this,\’ I said, realizing with a dull thrill of helplessness that this _was_ the record, right here on this stone. […] if only a fragment remained in the future, to fade in the sulfurous rain, it would say how much I loved him and terrible was the calamity.”\n\nSometimes I read Elouise\’s entries and think of the silence and the Emily D-style of telling is a slant and I begin to understand that in some ways the space of writing preserves a silence that keeps something true and fragile from becoming adulterated in a wash of words that do prolong the slow decay of the markers that support memory. In some ways silences are a boon to memory. Not talking about bad things, keeps them bad and keeps them things… they don\’t morph into spiritual predators. “Talking it out” is sometimes an excuse for talking it into being. Lomy in a comment to a comment mentioned the huh? effect upon perusing what I am threading here in the interstices of Weez blog. I was going to be glib and answer that huh was a step towards ah-hah but I let the remark and the question sit for a while. And although I don\’t know how, I suspect that that remark influenced how I have continued to read and to comment. Slowed me down in a sense and made me pause to continue to pay attention to detail and to do \nso in a way that doesn\’t not prolong the ephemeral, to dwell in the retelling, broken record after broken record.’, ‘n’);
weez’, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, ‘http://weez.oyzon.com’, 2004-05-16 20:41:17 – The Monette quote is lovely. Think of the advantage of fractured memory where the bad things are skipped, so the broken record is that of that which we choose to remember.
Francois Lachance’, ‘email@example.com’, ‘http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance/jardin/html/invertTEIblog.htm’, 2004-05-16 20:41:17′, ‘I’m into that groove. So into that groove. Scratches and all.