As I was placing my items on the conveyor belt at the grocery store, I saw to my left magazines lined up in rows on a rack. One of them had a photo of an actress on the front page with the headliner that expressed that she was “wild” about her new boyfriend.
Another magazine had a photo of a judge who apparently had divorced her husband and asking the question whether the reader would like to know why she got a divorce. Silently, I said, “I don’t want to know. But I hope all persons involved are happy.”
There were many more magazines like that, and similarly, they were all advertising the same concept: celebrity gossip.
As the cashier was ringing up my items, I thought about how gossip is unkind, intrusive, and mostly, if not always, invalid. So, then I got to thinking about why people want to read about celebrity business or any personal business for that matter? Is it curiosity? Entertainment? Infatuation with a certain celebrity? Is it the need to fantasize and live vicariously through another? Or maybe it’s schadenfreude, pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. Whatever the reason, this huge money-making industry on celebrity gossip does not seem to be fading out. In fact, gossip seems to be attractive and a fruitful habit!
A gossip is one who discloses personal or sensitive information about others in a chatty, careless way. The magazines certainly have that chatty, careless tone.
I recalled a time when I was in a waiting room in a medical building. The coffee table and the end tables were covered with gossip magazines. In addition to that, the TV tuned to a daytime talk show, and the hostesses were talking celebrity gossip. I felt there was no escaping the buzz! I then decided to meditate on something good and useful. That got me through the next ten minutes with ease!
Before leaving, I felt compelled to ask the person at the front desk why there were no periodicals about health and well-being in the waiting room. She responded, “People like to read that stuff, so we just keep putting out.”
I said goodbye, but I pondered how many more important issues there are in life to fill our minds with and contemplate, and how many more viable subjects to speak about that would be like healing agents to the world.
In the book of James 1:2-9, it is written, “If a person never speaks hurtful words or shouts in anger or profanity, then he has achieved perfection. The one who can control his tongue can also control the rest of his body. 3 It’s like when we place a metal bit into a horse’s mouth to ride it; we can control its entire body with the slightest movement of our hands. 4 Have you ever seen a massive ship sailing effortlessly across the water? Despite its immense size and the fact that it is propelled by mighty winds, a small rudder directs the ship in any direction the pilot chooses. 5 It’s just the same with our tongues! It’s a small muscle, capable of marvelous undertakings.
And do you know how many forest fires begin with a single ember from a small campfire? 6 The tongue is a blazing fire seeking to ignite an entire world of vices. The tongue is unique among all parts of the body because it is capable of corrupting the whole body. If that were not enough, it ignites and consumes the course of creation with a fuel that originates in hell itself. 7 Humanity is capable of taming every bird and beast in existence, even reptiles and sea creatures great and small. 8 But no man has ever demonstrated the ability to tame his own tongue! It is a spring of restless evil, brimming with toxic poisons. 9 Ironically this same tongue can be both an instrument of blessing to our Lord and Father and a weapon that hurls curses upon others who are created in God’s own image.” (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+3%3A1-12&version=VOICE )
Filling our minds with unproductive thoughts may not only hinder our spiritual progress but it may also thwart overall mental development.
In “What You Read Matters More Than You Think” in Psychology Today, writer Susan Reynolds explains, based upon a study published in the International Journal of Business Administration in May 2016, that there is “deep reading” and a “light reading.”1
Essentially, deep reading involves a more concentrated reading and comprehension and “occurs when the language is rich in detail…taps into the same brain regions that would activate if the reader were experiencing the event…a great exercise for the brain and has been shown to increase empathy, as the reader dives deeper and adds reflection, analysis, and personal subtext to what is being read.”2 As opposed to light reading that does not require much focus, attentiveness or a reason to retain. Reynolds further comments that light reading, such as “entertainment news…,” “lacks a genuine voice.”3
According to one article, after a study, Microsoft Corp. declared that “since the year 2000, the average attention span has dropped 12 seconds to eight seconds.”4 However, this fact, and the source of this fact, has been challenged. According to Simon Maybin, author of the BBC News article “Busting the Attention Span Myth,” the source is not Microsoft, but a company called Statistic Brain, which could not be reached. Maybin, having interviewed “various people who dedicate their working lives to studying human attention” found that even the experts are not certain “where those numbers come from either.”5 Sounds like more myth-information that turned into gossip!
“Deep thinking” or intelligent thinking does not have to be lengthy, but it does need to consist of something useful, uplifting, and propitious. It needs to educate, inform, and inspire. Surely, there are more subjects that could use our attention, such as love, benevolence, kindness, awareness, confidence, healing, and overall mental fitness.
Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
“To think intensely” is no light concept! And maybe that’s why gossip of any kind, celebrity or otherwise, is more appealing!
I understand the concept, “To each their own,” and I understand gossip may be lucrative for journalists. However, there are many wonderful topics to write about, topics filled with new ideas and new thoughts. In fact, there are unlimited possibilities waiting to be discovered. To entertain those new opportunities, one must be willing to search for the deeper things and put the mind to work! To break down barriers that confine thought to mediocracy.
Marie Curie said, “Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.” That’s a refreshing idea!
Psalm 119:37 reads “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.” (KJV)
God’s way of thinking is significantly different than gossip! And the prophet Isaiah spells that out clearly when he said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (KJV).
So, is it possible for man to think like God?
Yes! However, that requires man to focus on God and get to know God along with how the Almighty thinks.
In Colossians 3:2, the apostle Paul wrote, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (ESV). He wanted us to know that it is very easy to get pulled down by earthly ideas, desires, and aspirations rather than looking up, mentally up, to God for all things. After all, it’s not like man became tempted and earthly driven only in the 20th century. The world has been tempting mankind to yearn for the worldly things as far back as Adam and Eve.
Fame, fortune, self-glorification, and self-satisfaction are the ongoing tempters that draw us away from God and leave us smack in the middle of personal desire.
However, with this enticing and mesmeric pull of celebrity and material appeal, how can one stay his or her mind on God?
In the book of Philippians 4:8, it is written, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (ESV).
Ask yourself whether gossip fits any of those qualities mentioned above.
Is gossip true?
Is gossip honorable?
Is gossip just?
Is gossip pure?
Is gossip lovely?
Is gossip commendable?
Is gossip excellent?
Is gossip worthy of praise?
Henry Thomas Buckle said, “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
1 Reynold, Susan. “What You Read Matters More Than You Might Think.” Psychology Today. June 07, 2016. Accessed October 20, 2017. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prime-your-gray-cells/201606/what-you-read-matters-more-you-might-think.
4 McSpadden, Kevin . “Science: You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish.” Time. May 14, 2015. Accessed October 20, 2017. http://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/.
5 Maybin, Simon. “Busting the attention span myth.” BBC News. March 10, 2017. Accessed October 20, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38896790.