“Ethnographic Study Looks at Gossip in the Workplace” in the NYTimes:
The earlier studies found that once someone made a negative
comment about a person who wasn’t there, the conversation would get
meaner unless someone immediately defended the target. Otherwise, among
both adults and teenagers, the insults would keep coming because there
was so much social pressure to agree with the others.
Some interesting here. They say gossip usually spirals down until
someone intervenes to defend or deflect. In one school, gossip set up
rival camps; teachers eventually left and student test scores fell.
(and Christians more generally) are officially against gossip, though
of course we’re not immune and I’ve seen it act as almost a kind of
currency in some settings. But what are the classic Quaker tools for
deflecting this natural human tendency and keeping our communities from
the downward spirals of camp building?