At the beginning of class, I asked one girl to come to the front of the room, turned her back to the class, and handed her a softball. I then asked the rest of the class if there were any that felt comfortable catching the ball. When one volunteered, I handed her a mitt and instructed her to sit in the middle of the group. Next, I asked the first volunteer if she felt comfortable tossing the ball to the other. She said yes because the distance was fairly short and she knew the other girl had great ball handling skills. At that point, I asked the rest class (including the girl with the mitt) to close their eyes and instructed my first volunteer to toss the ball. over her head to the girl with the mitt. Naturally, she refused. When I asked her why she hesitated, she said she couldn’t guarantee her accuracy and was worried someone else might get hurt.
I then pointed out that when we gossip, we are essentially taking that gamble. Although are intentions may be to direct our comments specifically to one person…even a person that we trust can “handle” the gossip carefully…we cannot guarantee our own accuracy and with our words, endanger those around us.
In the next example, I asked for a volunteer and then proceeded to fill her hand with glitter. I asked her to try to pass the glitter down the row without losing a single piece. I offered $20 to the volunteer if she could accomplish this feat. Although she was terribly careful to pass her handful of glitter to the next person, the others down the line didn’t have the same incentive and were sloppy in their passing. Glitter was sticking to hands and scattering to the floor. She decided it would be impossible to retrieve it all, so consequently, she didn’t earn her reward.
I pointed out to the class that gossip is often like the glitter. We believe we can control it, but once it leaves our mouths we can no longer choose how the information is handled. Similar to glitter, once gossip is released, it spreads and is virtually impossible to retrieve.