Gossip — chin wagging, blathering, nattering, jawing, tongue wagging. Gossip is as old as time and as prevalent as ever. In my book, it equates to bullying and verbal harassment. In fact, I believe gossiping is more prolific and more inexhaustible than ever due to the onslaught of social media users who purposefully wield it for harm.

But let’s get back to old fashioned back biting with spoken words and not a keystroke. Perhaps you’ve been the victim in the cross hairs of gossip at home, school, the gym or the office. Wherever or however it occurs, I think we can all agree that when you are the subject of gossip, it hurts. Deeply. It hurts your feelings, your self esteem, your sense of trust in others, and can have long standing repercussions emotionally and psychologically for you, the victim.

It’s been said that people are probably not happy with their lives if they’re busy discussing yours. That doesn’t really lessen the pain to any degree. Neither does knowing that gossiping projects insecurity and indicates emotional immaturity. Somehow, that doesn’t quite put enough salve on the wound, does it? Sometimes, people try to expose what’s wrong with you because they can’t handle what’s right about you. Agreed. But that is no consolation after the blow has been delivered in the form of vicious, unsavory gossip. Knowing that people talking behind your back are right where they belong — behind you — is true, but doesn’t necessarily placate the victim. 

Don’t deny your feelings of being upset, betrayed, hurt and angry. Keep calm and decide upon a plan of action. If you were able to document the gossip, safeguard it. If you don’t feel comfortable confronting the responsible person(s), seek guidance from a parent, supervisor, human resources, or a trusted adult.

You are someone special, you are worthy, and you deserve peace of mind. The tongue is light, but very few can hold it. Especially gossipers.

Cynthia Burton is a Destin resident and former U.S. Marine.