I met with two young women last week, both of which consistently impress me with their maturity and insights. The topic at hand: gossip vs. schmoozing – what is innocent conversation amongst friends instead of a behind-the-back hurtful discussion? Where do we draw (Jewish?) lines between needing to vent and needing to feel good about spreading information that is none of our business?
We spent time focused on one piece of text that refers to a ‘talebearer’, listed as a רָכִיל (ra-keel). The term is rooted in the word for ‘merchant’, one who exchanges something – in this case, information.
While GW students may not spend time swapping their earthly possessions, we discussed that they certainly spend time exchanging information, particularly on social media. The famous (or is it infamous?) tagline of #OnlyAtGW is a perfect example; we live on a campus that encourages us to get online and share our unique and highly sought after experiences. This certainly may build a sense of team spirit and community, but it also throws some jealousy into the mix. Don’t you wish that you were me, insert school name here student? Or better yet, to a fellow Colonial, aren’t you sorry you were in your dorm room instead of with me seeing Senator John McCain at Starbucks, Jon Stewart at Lisner, Dr. Jill Biden at the Veterans event, etc. etc. etc.?
When you share something online, what are you asking for in exchange? And if you’re subtly asking for envy or jealousy, is that okay?