Salacious Gossip

One of the perhaps most difficult things to quit, to give up, when one seeks to adopt a “spiritual” way of life is the modern addiction to salacious gossip in all its forms. One could say that gossip is a bedrock of social media and that it sells newspapers and magazines. Humanity lives vicariously through the lives of others presented for our consumption. Gossip is pushed like a wrap of fentanyl laced heroin.

Many would say, “oh no not me, I am not a gossip”. Well they may not be a pusher but they will score a wrap from time to time. This pays the pushers.

Quite a while back I was thoroughly shocked by an old acquaintance from school. We met up and he wanted to know the ins and outs of both my private life and those of anyone we knew in common. I was genuinely surprised because it was so obvious that he was almost salivating. “Really?”, I thought.

I have joked that the collective noun for a group of academics is a gossip of academics.

In principle an academic is detached and has a cool considered oversight. But that is not the case, they seemed obsessed about who got which grant, who has the higher measure of esteem and where people are in the “blessed” league tables.

Lofty pursuance of academic thought, nah. One upmanship and gossip about who is on the up and who is on the down are readily to be found. If there is any sex scandal, all the better. In the past academia had its own version of the casting couch too. Academia gets a metaphorical hard on for scandal. It likes the salacious just like anyone else.

Trungpa suggests that the Ego is forever trying to use spiritual teachings for its own benefit. Thus, gossip about whichever guru may masquerade as intelligent inquiry, when in fact it is just gossip clothed differently.

If you look at various publications you can classify a very large amount of their content as being gossip related and much of it hearsay carefully couched so as to avoid libel court action. It seems we all want to know what people are speculating as to the minds of Harry and William. There are “clairvoyant” royal “experts” who can read their minds for our “benefit”.

I know that at various stages of my life I have been a subject of gossip. The use of “a” is deliberate because I was only one topic amongst a host. It rarely occurs to people that gossip can damage even ruin careers. But people, it seems, cannot resist and love the attention from listeners which a juicy titbit might offer them


“Have you heard about…”

“Really? Well, I never…”

I will make a postulate.

You cannot achieve liberation whilst you are a purveyor and consumer of gossip. If you are in anyway attached to gossip you are not free. You are addicted and suffer from the fear of missing out on the latest juicy and salacious titbit. You damage the web of life by your obsession.

You may be able to do the most complex asana but if gossip has you, then you are simply a bendy gossip.

In order to be free one has to reorient oneself apropos of gossip, maybe go cold turkey.

Here are some questions to help. Honesty instead of justification may help.

Do I like to hear gossip?

Do I find it a tad salacious?

Have I ever damaged anyone by gossiping about them?

Have I ever been damaged by gossip?

Am I perhaps more addicted to gossip than I would like to admit?

Is gossip in any way life enhancing?

When Does Discussing Someone as a Group Become Bullying?

It is not uncommon for the brave and the “good” to gather around a campfire and discuss an individual who is not there. This is particularly so if they want to manage and handle said individual. Rarely does it occur to them that their discussions whether accurate, biased, bellicose or otherwise might be straying into the areas of both gossip, tittle-tattle, fantasy and bullying.

When does it stray from common sense preparation into bullying?

You tell me…

“When the cat is away the mouse will play”, is something Theun once said to me at a retreat. We went for dinner and when we got back people were not doing as I had suggested.

Groups of people in wanting to provide a united front can “gang up” on someone. Amongst themselves this seems to make sense. They do not consider that all this chit-chat behind someone’s back is not nice nor as welcoming as they might convince themselves it is. They can “justify” it amongst themselves…

“We are the good and the right and that Apache all on his own is bad and dangerous so we need to be ultra-prepared to face him…he is a threat… we must handle him carefully…”

Absent / Absence Quotes

The absent are like children, helpless to defend themselves.

Charles Reade

The absent are never without fault, nor the present without excuse.

Benjamin Franklin

Be generous with kindly words, especially about those who are absent.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Never find fault with the absent.

Alexander Pope

Absence blots people out. We really have no absent friends.

Ambrose Bierce

Greater things are believed of those who are absent.


Out of sight, out of mind. The absent are always in the wrong.

Thomas a Kempis

The loudest voice in the room, sometimes, is the absent voice of the silenced.

Andy Dunn

At dramatic rehearsals, the only author that’s better than an absent one is a dead one.

George S. Kaufman

My father was absent and he was a hero to me.

Greta Scacchi

In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.    

Isaac Newton

Gossip Quotes

Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Don Miguel Ruiz

The only time people dislike gossip is when you gossip about them.

Will Rogers

Gossip can be entertaining: occasionally, I’ve heard the most fascinating things about myself I never knew.

Vanna Bonta

I know nothing more annoying when people I don’t know jump to conclusions on my person based on nothing but gossip or speculation.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Gossip is called gossip because it’s not always the truth.

Justin Timberlake

Today’s gossip is tomorrow’s headline.

Walter Winchell

Ah, well, the truth is always one thing, but in a way it’s the other thing, the gossip, that counts. It shows where people’s hearts lie.

Paul Scott

Gossip is the opiate of the oppressed.

 Erica Jong

Secrecy sets barriers between men, but at the same time offers the seductive temptation to break through the barriers by gossip or confession.

Georg Simmel

Gossip is hardly uplifting.

Ginger Rogers

Gossip is when you hear something you like about someone you don’t.

Earl Wilson

Gossip is poison.

Gisele Bundchen

Gossip, even when it avoids the sexual, bears around it a faint flavor of the erotic.

Patricia Meyer Spacks

The only gossip I’m interested in is things from the Weekly World News – ‘Woman’s bra bursts, 11 injured’. That kind of thing.

Johnny Depp

Who Do You Really Know?

There is a tendency for people to think they know others and then to express an all seeing opinion upon them. It is a part of the heinous sin, gossip. This practice of gossiping about people, who are the movers and shakers, who is on the up, who is knobbing who, who is on the down, who got a big grant, who published in nature was part and parcel of academic life. There are newspapers and magazines nearly entirely dedicated to gossip. It is fair to say that gossip and the salacious desire for the next juicy morsel is very common in our times. People, now get this, gossip about what is happening in TV soap operas!! They are knowingly gossiping about what is happening in made up stuff.

I have on occasion met people at events who claim to have met me and know me. One of these was at an IOP sponsored entrepreneurship event. They did not know that they were talking to me. So clearly their claims were not entirely accurate. It is very bizarre to stand there and have some arsehole tell you about yourself. It is tempting to offer them a shovel so that they might dig for themselves a deeper hole.

If for example you met me say two decades ago and we interacted briefly you might have a very different version of me in your mind, different from what I actually am like now. I am deeply introverted so in all likelihood I would not have spoken very much about what is/was important to me. If you met me three decades ago, you might have had the impression that I was more of a party animal, but I was already starting to introvert more. There are things about me that most people have no idea of.

For example, when I was doing my Ph.D. I was accepted as a trainee officer cadet in the Royal Marine Commando Reserves. I passed quickly through the initial selection because my paternal family had a long association with the military across several generations.

On numerous occasions people gave assumed that I am ex-military. I had a long chat with my hairdresser in Farnham who was ex-Pathfinder and sniper. His eyesight had started to go. I talked about Brecon, having hiked there and he assumed that I had done some training there. The dope dealers outside KFC in Brixton used to joke I was a soldier. They asked me if I was a police officer and I said no.

I think it fair to say that most people make shed loads of assumptions about others and seldom check either the provenance of any received opinion or the accuracy of their assumptions.

Most people interact façade to façade and therefore all anybody gets sight of is some made up projection that people want others to see. Sometimes that façade slips and then one gets a brief sight of that which people seek to hide from others.

In Breaking Bad, the narcotics cop does not suspect Heisenberg, his brother in law, for a very long time.


Who do you think you really know?

Are you accurate in your estimation?

Or are there many assumptions?