“Everyone talks shit,” people may say. After all, we’ve only mastered the art of trash-talking since we could play with barbies and paint our nails. Not to imply that backstabbing is inherently “feminine,” but this certainly leads to the generalization of emotional fire being executed by our estrogen-y counterparts. But regardless of whether we’re dealing with Mean Girls (or mean boys, or both!), we can argue that “talking shit” is only apart of our natural element. Darwinism, survival of the fittest?
Well yes, we may do it to agree with our conversation partners who started the garbage gab (see what I did there?) and attempt to elevate with the sexier, richer, more popular Queen Bee(s). But it definitely differs; depending on a plethora of factors, including gender, life situations and the perspective of the shit-talker vs. the talked-about.
First off, the phrase “everyone talks shit” can be applicable; since people seem to have their own individual perspective as to what’s considered “talking shit”. In my opinion at least, it’s inevitable that we’re all going to vent about our issues to our friends, and those issues will probably involve people – whether they be other friends, relatives, other-halves, acquaintances, co-workers and the like. Yes, in those cases, we’d be talking about people…and yes, “small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events…”
We know where this is going. But all rebuttals aside, one of the most vital purposes of communication – especially with loved ones – is to confide trust and express our emotions with each other. So sometimes, if someone’s treating you like crap and is just being a complete b!tch, it’s not only normal but necessary or even healthy to let that sh!t out for a lending ear!
While it may be obvious that we need to discuss our problems for our own physical health and mental/emotional/psychological sanity, and those problems will involve people and we will therefore be talking about people AND those people may not like what you’re saying about them, we all have different ideas as to what is just unacceptable to say.
In terms of genders, there tends to be a difference between how males and females relate to each other. According to society, if a guy tells his other guy friend he’s packed on a few pounds or says it behind his back and his friend finds out, they probably won’t be competing with comeback remarks or holding grudges against each other. This may be a generalization again, but at the most climatic point of anger – if hypothetically speaking, a guy found another guy flirting with his GF – he would, or at least want to, physically attack the predator.
Since guys aren’t as comfortable revealing their deepest feelings to their opponents, they won’t torment their victims with words; so they appear to either rough it out and/or let it go. But with a girl, beware. She may not punch you in the face, but she’ll burn with backhanded insults and vicious rumours; with no qualms about turning everyone against you and ruining your life. Hair flip.
Now, this all may seem like high-school-state-of-mind to you; but with girls (and, yes, even guys), there will always be drama. Since we all have situations in our lives and no matter what you do, someone’s always going to have something against you or something you do; which – even though you try not to care – will affect you and then continue the destructive cycle of “talking about someone”.
But, see. Here’s the thing. If you’re talking about someone, you can speak about them constructively and weigh their strengths out with their weaknesses. Or if you do say something negative, you can justify it with the reason why you’re upset with them or convey your feelings in an “I” statement so if the comment is revealed, it’s not misconstrued or blaming the talked-about. It’s natural we might call someone names out of pure blood-boiling passion, and it may not be intentional.
Allow me to explain at least what I consider the differences between “talking about someone” and “talking shit”, and that’s this: the fine line between what you say and how you say it, whether it be constructive or offensive. If you say “Vanessa’s a sweet, caring person and I love her with all my heart, but she needs to learn how to be more assertive because it looks like she lets people take advantage of her” – that’s constructive, because even though you admit Vanessa has a potential issue in establishing her boundaries and saying “no”, you still see the whole picture and appreciate her positive attributes of being “sweet and caring” – without being overly empathetic or looking over her other weaknesses.
Of course, when we’re livid and want to talk about how someone’s pissing us off, most of us probably wouldn’t be that forgiving in the moment. So if you say “OMG, Jeff’s acting like the biggest asshole right now! He makes such a big deal when I go out with my friends”, you’re calling Jeff an unfavourable name; but your explanation justifies why you feel like saying that about Jeff in the moment, and you say he’s “acting like an asshole” – not that he “is an asshole”.
Also, if you say “I feel” – just like “I feel like Jeff is controlling me when he yells at me for going out with my friends” – you’re not putting Jeff on the defensive or accusing him of doing something without any evidence. You’re taking responsibility for your feelings and seeing how that fight between you and Jeff can be partially both your faults. Finally, the ultimate trash-talking insult could be something reiterated along the lines of: “OMG, Jenny is such a dumb skank-bitch.
She’s so ugly and fat. She has a horse face.” Because that’s just mean and uncalled-for. Even if Jenny did something so horrible for you to get you to even think of saying something of that calibur…But the worst is when there’s no reason why anyone should be speaking of you that way at all…
Let’s just say you find out your “friend” is making fun of you like that behind your back; teasing you for your authentic physical attributes or circumstances of your being and life that may be out of your control. And even if they are things you can change, they shouldn’t be scrutinized or criticized. If they do speak ill of you like this – behind your back and/or to your face – they’re not accepting you for who you are, and they’re not being good friends. Needless to note, they’re probably lying to your face and manipulating you for their own benefits ie. rides, money, advice, or other favours. So in other words, they’re not being good human beings either. Or at least they’re not your true friends at all.
Even more incomprehensible are people who turn words around and frame you to look like Cruella De Vil, or Regina George. Rumours spread like wildfire, and they could sabotage the reputation, employment, relationships, health and life in general of someone who doesn’t deserve it – especially if there isn’t any backing to the gossip, the ideas derive from (almost) nothing or are simply untrue.
Shit-talking can also include copying and pasting sentences or fragments of another’s speech without their knowledge or consent; which can also lead to others twisting their words around and making it look like they’re creating something out of thin air. It’s also easy to mishear or misinterpret what’s being said and even “innocently” gather your own observations or perceptions, all while sharing them with someone else.
We all may have a right to our own speech and thoughts. We may want to call someone “ugly” or “fat” without feeling guilty, or oppose censorship for the sake of “freedom”. But before you talk shit, remember if you’d want to hear someone say the same thing about you. And make sure you have your facts straight.