PG's Tips for Survival at the RHN

SIDNEY HEARS THAT 'Careless Talk Costs Lives'
- Gossip Kills

For those who don't remember World War Two (and this includes Sidney) there was, so he had seen, a famous poster. It showed two women chatting, and behind them sat a Hitler-figure. This was displayed all over London, to remind people that idle gossip could end up being overheard by the enemy. The information could then be passed on, ending with the destruction of lives.

Sidney found that this rather stark message was true in his own experience. It had nothing to do with state secrets or espionage. He had instead noticed how gossip could have a damaging effect on people. This was not that a person could literally be killed - it was more a case of the effect that this 'careless talk' had on both the gossiper and the person who are being talked about.

There is a need to explain, thought Sidney. It's time to give examples of what he had been rambling on about.

Take the case of the gossip about a member of staff who is unwell. The gossiper 'feeds' in some information about his /her so-called colleague, thus fuelling the flames of bitterness against that staff member. This is irrespective of whether there is any truth in the gossip. What effect does this have? First of all, it damages the image of the staff member, in that they are being made fun of, ridiculed, laughed at behind their back - in short, this can be called 'character assassination'.

Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, the gossipers themselves are affected. Sidney noticed that these people, apart from the initial popularity of being the centre of attention, became increasingly 'bitter and twisted', to coin a phrase. They are the ones who ultimately are the losers!

This was by no means confined to the staff, but Sidney saw it among residents, friends and even relatives.

He was the first to find himself enjoying a bit of 'harmless' gossip. He seldom thought of the consequences.

Written by Peter Gow
September 2000
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