Gossip is a mortal sin

Gossip Thomas SullyLast night I was reading about how gossiping is a mortal sin. I’ve never liked  gossip and I’ve never liked people who indulge in it. But I’ve never seen it treated in quite this way.

The writer, Daniel A. Lord calls it the “commonest fault” and the “meanest of human instincts.”  He considers it cowardly, as the person being gossiped about rarely knows about it.  He says people do it because they can’t get attention in other ways.  They have no fresh ideas to contribute to a conversation so they resort to gossiping to get people to pay attention to them.

He talks about the terrible damage it does, to a person’s reputation.

“Fundamentally, it’s a form of murder. Cold and deliberately, a knife is driven into a reputation. Ruthlessly a character is slain. A fair name is ruined in the eyes of others…”


“And it’s so utterly cowardly!  There is no real chance to defend oneself. One can’t strike back . It’s like fighting ghosts and shadows, and snipers who shoot from safe hiding places. The assassin who stabs in the back takes some slight physical risk. The gossip takes none. His victim is absent, unable to defend himself, helpless against the poison that drops from venomed tongues.

He may never know what really happened, why some dear friend suddenly turned against him, why he read unaccountable suspicion in the eyes of acquaintances. And all the while, his betrayer works in darkness, at a safe distance, without the possibility of his victim’s striking back.  It’s a coward’s game, no matter who plays it.”

Currently, Mercury is in Capricorn (responsibility) opposing Jupiter in Cancer (benevolence of the highest order).  Rather than mean-spirited gossip, the author suggests you talk beautifully about others.

“Search out their splendid heroisms and talk of them. Tell of their unselfishness, their generosity, their idealism. Find the big things they have done in art and literature, in social life, in their secret souls. Drag those things into the light…”


“Let us all leave gossip for small minds and uncharity for mean minds. For us, only the best and finest that is in humanity.”

This seems an excellent instruction under the current sky.

Do you see yourself in this?


pictured – Thomas Sully (1783-1872). Gossip.

45 thoughts on “Gossip is a mortal sin”

  1. Great post, couldn’t agree with the author more. What’s the name of the book Elsa? Sounds like something I’d like to read.

    Happy New Year Everyone! Be safe!

    1. Hi Teresa, it is an essay, not a book. Find it googling: Daniel A. Lord gossiping

      Super interesting. The best thing I have ever read on the topic, anywhere.

  2. “‘I’ve watched a woman who has been a little out of the general conversation grow restless, she went on. ‘No one has been paying any attention to her. She has no ideas to contribute to the talk about intellectual subjects. But there is a moment’s lull, and then, with a jump, she has gained the focal point of attention with ‘Did you hear about Mrs. So-and So’s affair with her young doctor?’ Others have been too much noticed; she has been neglected; but just as the conversation is getting completely out of her reach, she pulls the whole company her way with a choice bit of scandal. Gossip gets her the spotlight.”

  3. I do agree with the author that gossip can be utterly detrimental. No, I don’t have to participate but lately I find more compassion in commiserating with those who have their whole lives on display. For instance, celebrity gossip can be a gross violation of privacy & having had my own privacy destroyed recently I see that the public needs a villain to distract from their own deeds. No matter who you are or what you do if you make the wrong enemy your life is over so to speak. I’ve seen that my whole life & tried to speak kindness but it doesn’t change the fact that people in groups want someone to crucify. From what I’ve seen telling good deeds means maybe people won’t gossip to you, and you may be lumped in with the target. When people want to string someone up they’ve convinced themselves its justified. Somewhere around here Elsa said “you can’t stop people from being assholes” so I will only try to remember compassion for all involved.

    Happy New Year everyone, & good luck with everything Teresa!!

  4. “She has no ideas to contribute to the talk about intellectual subjects. But there is a moment’s lull, and then, with a jump, she has gained the focal point of attention with ‘Did you hear about Mrs. So-and So’s..”

    This right here, above, what you said, has currently been a daily battle with someone close to me for two years. It has gotten to the point where I don’t enjoy being out with that person in a group dinner and I’ve gone out to group dins without that individual lately in enjoyment of a completed intel convo. And yes i have tried to (one-to-one) get that person to think deeper on at least the initial level.

    The other thing the gossiper does is sometimes ‘mimic’ everyone else’s words when the cliches and dumb gossip doesn’t pan out for them. That drives me just batshit and I can’t at that point. Flaky. No more with that type.

  5. Gossip is a funny thing. Sometimes it’s the only way I find out what is really going on. I use gossips as resources. It can keep me informed of the social temperature. And yes the pro gossip is very effective at controlling the group mind. And yes I’ve been the target. And yes it made life very difficult. It has freaked me out when people I don’t even know confront me and attack with some nonsense that has been run through the mill and is totally foreign to me. Or when I am supposed to be this person who in no way can live up to the expectations created by the flattering gossiper. It can get really crazy depending on the intentions of the instigator. I guess the gossiper extraordinaire can be an opinion maker. People then think they know me even though we have never met. It’s a small town head set. What can I say?

  6. “He may never know what really happened, why some dear friend suddenly turned against him, why he read unaccountable suspicion in the eyes of acquaintances. And all the while, his betrayer works in darkness..”

    I have had this experience, countless times, online. Sometimes people even tell me… “After what I’ve heard about you…”

    I have no idea what they’re talking about and I never ask. The minute I find out someone plays in that realm and can be influenced by it, I discount them.

    The ability to discriminate is under-rated. Further, it should have been mastered with Saturn in Virgo.

    If you missed that boat, then I guess you better get your ass on the next one (saturn to mercury, Saturn through the 6th)

    The current transit of Mercury in Capricorn can work here. It’s why I posted this.

    Do the right thing with your mouth!

    If you read the actual essay, it is quite interesting. He explains why it is wrong to tell things *that are true* in many circumstances. If you are saying things that aren’t true, this is beyond the pale.

    He also explains in depth, who does this and why…and who doesn’t do it, and why.

    It’s worth a read.

    1. Runnin a website, you are kind of like a celebrity. I was thinkin about all those shows like Insider, Entertainment Tonite, Dish Nation, TMZ. It’s all gossip about those with notoriety. I don’t think it is easy being viewed as a product. But it comes with the territory. There is always that Like/Dislike button waitin to be pushed.

      It freaked me out when someone told me they were worried about Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus (most likely just an excuse to pass judgement). But I was like hunh? You don’t even know them. What would people see if someone was following you around with a camera 24-7? Add to that photo shop skills. And celebrity use of press opportunity to draw attention and sell records. And how can you really know?

    2. Part of this overly nice busines, lack of individual creative thought is due to this say whatever comes to mind without a good editor. When the Beatles first came to the U.S. they were interviewed and during the interview said things off the cuff and they were quite shocked when what they said was published. That the editor didn’t have the sensitivity to know those careless comments on paper could be damaging.

  7. After a health scare I started eating and exercising better. Dieting has given me insights into why people and their audiences indulge in gossip.

  8. Yeah detest it, have gotten very vocal about that so ppl that engage avoid trying to pull me in now 🙂
    It’s not called character assassination for nothing.
    If someone tries to Ive defend the person mentioned who’s not present plus I point out if one points a finger 3 r pointing back atcha n such.

  9. When I was a kid, I read a piece of advice that always stuck with me. When someone is talking bad about someone, you can respond: “That’s odd. They always say such nice things about you.”

    I never forgot that.

    1. Elsa, I’ve never heard that “That’s odd. They always say such nice things about you.” but not i’ll never forget it either, and with your permission i’ll probably use it, it’s an excellent humbler!

      1. yeah, I didn’t write that. I read it when I was young.
        I have always studied manners – really. Mars conjunct Mercury in the 9th house. I was raised without manners but I’ve tried to acquire them.

        So this was advice I read by some manners expert – how to handle a situation where someone was badmouthing someone. It’s always, always made me uncomfortable. Painfully, uncomfortable.

        I think that deep down, we know what is right and wrong. I know that I do. But I also think having it defined is very helpful. I like how the writer laid this out. I don’t think he missed a trick.

      1. Wow! What aspects makes gemini moon or gemini anything despise gossip or thrive on it? That is a mystery to me. I live in a gemini state on the edge of a gemini village in a libra township that is not particularly fond of the village people. The village people are known to be particularly judgemental like their poop don’t stink. Judgement would have to do with jupiter? I always see judgement as more saturnian because it shuts me down.

        1. Thats curious, because in one of my astro books, I read that Gemini, eg Moon in Gemini are fond of gossiping. It suddenly struck me that 2 ladies I know who tend to “talk” about other people BOTH have Gemini moons. Gemini is talkative ! .Gossip in this context is NOT necessarily about being judgemental, BUT passing on snippets of “news”, about other people that is then subject to distortion.

  10. I’m always the last to know behind the scenes stuff at work because I am not on the gossip train. People know this and don’t share because they know I don’t like gossip.
    On the other hand, people tell me their secrets because they know I can keep my mouth shut.

  11. Good Post!

    I have to admit even when I talk about others. I know I talking about myself. It’s a reflection of my character. I’m not a big gossip. But when someone bothers me enough to when I have to vent about why I don’t like them, it has nothing to do with them, it’s all me. I’m usually avoiding something.

    But then again I’m also aware that even if I don’t like them, it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. I admit, I may be wrong. When I see others gossip (“Schadenfreude”), it’s shows their own character. It doesn’t matter how bad that person is, they’re the one’s ruining their name by ruining another’s.

  12. ^ that’s a great reply 🙂

    My mom always told me the best and easiest way to stay our of trouble is to stay away from gossip/s. And she was right, especially as far as girls or women are concerned. I don’t pry into people’s personal lives, and rarely ask personal questions unless somebody is confiding in me. It’s one thing that’s kept me out of a lot of unnecessary ‘drama’.

    Anytime I’m around somebody gossiping I cant help think ‘gee, I wonder what they would say about me when my back is turned!’ It’s quite impossible to trust such a person.

    1. “Anytime I’m around somebody gossiping I cant help think ‘gee, I wonder what they would say about me when my back is turned!’ It’s quite impossible to trust such a person.”

      I think the same thing. I wonder what a horrible person I must be once I leave the room. lol

  13. I’ve been a gossip when I was little. And I always felt physically sick afterwards. I can’t get away with that anymore. I literally had to stop because it was affecting my sleep. I just felt horrible. And guess what. I did it for attention. I was afraid of getting lost in a crowd of people. But I betrayed myself and lost.

    Neptune in 12th conjunct Ascendant in Capricorn.

  14. Cici said: “I’ve seen that my whole life & tried to speak kindness but it doesn’t change the fact that people in groups want someone to crucify.”

    I think this beautifully sums gossip up in a nutshell. I have been drawn into the crucifying groups, I am ashamed to say, simply to keep my ass from being a target.

    I work with some seriously fucked up people who do nothing but talk about how much someone else is a loser, asshole, moron, useless, insert whatever negative adjective you would like.

    These people happen to have “power” so unfortunately I just keep my mouth shut while they spew their venom, because I know there is literally no-one to complain to who will do anything about it.

    Hence my New Year’s Resolution, to most definitely NOT be working at the same place where I am currently employed. I know there are shitheads wherever you go, but this happens to be a particularly toxic environment. I could put my energies into taking some people down, because I know about alot of seriously illegal shit that has gone on.

    But I have decided to put all my energy into getting the hell out, and concentrate on all of the talents I have to offer in my profession.

    1. Survival in those groups. I hear ya. It’s hard for me not to step in and defend the one being targeted (probably because I’ve been there so many times), but you are right, then they turn on me. In those situations I do feel I need to somehow let the targeted know that I’m not down with what is going on. And sometimes I have offered support only to have the originally targetted person turn on me. I’m just not sure about this. I would like to release whatever it is that takes me into those situations. Or maybe the ones who tell me ‘you just can’t care’ or ‘you care too much’ are right? And maybe focussing on the task at hand, your profession, is the positive thing to do. Not sure what’s the right thing for me to do.

    2. Okay, mercury in libra makes a decision. Thank you very much. It’s a nasty game. And not worth getting involved in. Those game playin zombies eat my brain and zap my energy.

  15. Believe me Elsa I am always the point of gossip in this town w family or friends. I find it disgusting. And if I indulge in slander of another it is for a reason. But I do not indulge with two or more. I’ve seen how ugly it is Elsa, it is truly an ugly thing to do. I am glad you are condemning this on the internet where people need to know their not in the right to do it. Thanks!

  16. Very interesting topic. I have to lean on the gossips (at work) sometimes to know what exactly is going on – because no one tells me. I don’t care for character assassination, unless I they absolutely deserve it and its the truth. Maybe because I’m a Scorpio (haha, but true) I have learned to “play dumb” in a sense when I want to find things out from gossips. I most likely know something is going on, but I want to hear it from a certain person(s). Somehow I can project what I want (sometimes I know I need to just say or do something, and that will get the other person talking) and then I pretend I have *no clue* what is happening. This makes people talk more when they think you know nothing. Many times I take that information and just hold onto it – I think people trust me because I really don’t go around blabbing. After a while I can discern what is the truth and what is bullshit. But it also gives me an opportunity to let gossips know my point of view or if I think they just need to STFU. Its funny when later you hear that same point of view coming from someone else’s mouth – knowing full well you walked away and the gossip used your words as their own. Maybe that is a bit manipulative, but I have nothing better to do sometimes but pull the strings and watch what happens. Gossips are easy to manipulate, and they don’t even realize it.

  17. I once told someone (in person), “I listened to gossip about you and avoided you because of it. I’m so sorry; I was so wrong.” actually, now that I think of it, I’ve done that twice. and after that I had someone come back to me with the same… they apologized to me as well. knowing how hard that is to do (very vulnerable place to be) I value that SO MUCH. it makes me like that person so much more. I certainly appreciate the loyalty I get that never wavered (Elsa) but the next best thing is a genuine turnabout.

  18. Great post. I just loathe gossip. I try never to do it, although as with so many things in life I have had to learn … when I was young, I betrayed a confidence, and felt absolutely stricken the minute the words left my mouth. I regretted this and thought of it often. Eventually, I saw the person I had wronged and had a chance to apologize and be forgiven, which was a really incredible experience.

    I think there are different kinds of gossip. There’s the flat out, nasty jabbering about someone else’s private business. A sort of recreational malice and it’s awful. Then there’s the kind that is essentially complaining about someone you should be dealing with directly.

    This sounds like a good essay, I’m going to check it out.

  19. Wow! This is hitting right on target for me. I am one of the nicest guys around and they can’t stop gossiping about me. This guy who pretends to be religious and holy is always stabbing me in the back and talking crap. I’m a big guy and he I much smaller then I. I want to break his jaw and his fathers. Both of them pretending to be my friend, All smiles to me. Grrrrr!

  20. I read a quote on this subject from Jay-Z that I really liked: Don’t tell me what was said about me…Tell me why were they so comfortable to say it to you?

  21. A good thing to remember….”if you do not have anything good to say about some one then it is best to remain silent.”
    Awareness of the chattering mind is a great exercise . Not easy!

  22. I’ve always considered gossip an evil. My first encounter as a “target”, many years ago.. couple of years after my marriage ended, new man in my life. He didn’t have a car, so it became a pattern that in the evenings, after my kids settled, I’d regularly drive over to his place, and return early in the morning. One day a woman in my street, which was a quiet cul de sac in a “nice” suburb ( I had only lived there a year) divulged that neighbours had been gossiping about me, speculating that I must be a prostitute. I felt deeply shocked & mortified..(AND ashamed!). Life there never felt the same after that..
    With new friendships, I wait a long time to see whether they “gossip”about other people. (Even if it’s just details about others’ personal lives that’s not necessarily negative.) I have a newish friend who does that. She gives me updates on her friends’ personal affairs who I don’t even know. I’m not keen on that. So, I keep things on a superficial level between us. I don’t really enjoy superficial friendships.
    My favorite kind of person is somebody who’s gone through trials & tribulations & had to learn humility.

  23. I haven’t read this whole thread, but I did read the essay. In fact, I thought it was so good that I printed it out.
    I have a lot to say, but I don’t want to gossip. It reminds me of why I hate gossip and how easily a person can be sucked in, even if they have good intentions. Better to shut up and just listen.

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