Plain and simple, talking sh*t is a practice that dates back centuries. Although Brutus didn’t start a group text with his Roman senator friends to talk about Caesar behind his back, it can be assumed that there was some hush-hush gossip involved.
It is said that as Caesar saw his BFF-turned-conspirator Brutus approaching him on the day of his death, he simply pulled his toga over his head and mumbled “You too, Brutus?”
The truth of the matter is, we’re all Brutus at one point or another. We all find other people’s names in our mouths, whether we’d like to admit it or not. But why? Why do we feel so personally offended by the actions of others, when it has nothing to do with us?
Although 21st century back-stabbing isn’t quite as literal as it once was, you’d be lying if you said that you have never, ever spoken about someone without their knowing. Sometimes it happens without you even intending for it to.
Additionally, there are different mediums in the art of talking sh*t— either to simply share unbiased information (“Did you hear that Rebecca got a nose job?”), formulate biased opinions on said information (“Did you hear that Rebecca got a nose job? Good for her, her old nose was hideous”), or downright rash comments about an individual (“Fuck Rebecca. She’s the WOAT.”).
A prominent reason why people feel the need to talk about others is rooted in our human desire to be “in the know” and let everyone else and their mother know that we are indeed “in the know.”
We all love having information to share. Whether it’s tagging your friends in a relatable meme, or being the first to alert your group chat that the couple you’ve all been secretly obsessed with broke up, everyone loves to share.
After all, why do you think that so many different news outlets exist? CNN, ABC, MSNBC, E!…The world is far too large for just one exceptionally tight-faced news anchor.
I distinctly remember a third grade teacher of mine proclaiming “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Not to allow politics to enter the safe space that is my blog— but the current leader of our country doesn’t have the nicest things to say about everyone, and he’s sitting in the White House.
Chances are, our names have all been in other people’s mouths at some point in time, without us even doing anything to provoke it. People who hardly know us have probably screenshotted our Instagrams to send in their groupchats (“lol look at Katy, she thinks she’s soooooo coooool”) and some of them don’t even have an explicit reason why. I’ve learned that a person could hate your guts but still check your Instagram and Snapchat religiously.
While talking sh*t isn’t necessarily a skill that a person is inclined to add to their LinkedIn profile, it’s just a part of life. Is it really such a big deal?
While we can’t stop the “locker room talk” from occurring altogether, we can adjust our personal perception of it all. Phineas T. Barnum, the 19th century circus owner, is famous for allegedly saying “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” Despite the many flubs in his circus business that generated quite a bit of talk amongst 20th century America, he still died a very rich and accomplished man. He died doing the thing he loved most— performing. (He quite literally had a stroke during one of his performances and died.)
Ironically, Barnum’s circus competitors, the Ringling Brothers, bought out his business after his death in 1907. However, the quote is still a valid one. Perhaps all the sh*t talking doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.
People ask me all the time, “Katy, how do you deal with the negative feedback that you receive on your social media and videos?” Personally, I know that for every hate comment that is tangibly written on my social media platforms, ten more comments were made intangibly behind my back. The truth of the matter is, if you do something even remotely “different” or “avant garde” with your life— in terms of occupation, religion, romantic preference, hair style, etc.,— be prepared to receive criticism. Most of this criticism will also take place behind your back by perfect strangers. Some of this criticism won’t even be deserved; it will be unnecessarily mean and hurtful.
If knowing that you’ll get sh*t on stops you from pursuing a dream, whatever it may be, then I genuinely feel sorry for you.
No one in history has ever chased a dream without a little bit of push-back.
I’ll say it again: it’s just a part of life. A (sometimes) pretty fucked up part of life— like having to pay taxes on clothes and Chick-Fil-A being closed on Sundays— but a part of life, nonetheless.
Sh*t talking has ignited movements, won peace for suffocated Nations and fueled change. It’s not all bad.
In summary: Sh*t talking might’ve killed Caesar, but despite what’s been said about us, we’ll all be just fine. I promise. As the late Winston Churchill said: “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.”