We’ve all heard the phrase ‘if you’ve got nothing good to say, say nothing at all’ many times. But how many of us apply this age old adage to our own lives? Whether it’s gossip or just idle talk, there is no use for it.
In the time of Facebook and Twitter, we are constantly being invited to share our opinions and thoughts via social media. There is nothing wrong with healthy discussion and debate, but we must always be conscious of what exactly we’re saying on these forums: is it constructive, is it positive, is it helpful? If not, then we should refrain from speaking for the sake of doing so.
The internet makes many of us feel like we’re experts on many things, but in reality, many of us don’t have a clue what we’re talking about half the time. We jump into discussions and conversations about topics we know nothing about simply for the sake of adding our two cents, because we think we can just google things and become experts within minutes. This results in idle talk, since we’re talking for the sake of just talking. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t speak.
Gossip is another form of idle talk that many of us engage in without even knowing it. It usually starts very easily, as someone comes to us complaining about a mutual friend or family member or even someone we’ve never met. Even if we don’t have the intention to engage in gossip, before we know it, our mouth has run away with us and we’re complaining about that person too. We all know of the verse in the Quran that tells us not to backbite one another, for it is a grievous a sin as eating the flesh of your dead brother (Surah Al-Hujrat, verse 12) but we easily forget it.
So how do we stay away from idle talk and gossip? By thinking before speaking. By filtering the things that come out of our mouth. Before saying anything, ask yourself whether what you’re saying will hurt someone, whether it will have a positive effect, and whether it is constructive. If not, try to rephrase it so that it is more pleasing. If you can’t do that, don’t say that. No one needs to hear it.
There is a reason why we have two ears and only one mouth. We should listen more than we speak, and not engage in idle talk.
A reminder for myself before anyone else.