I know this comes as a huge surprise (I'll let you decide whether or not I'm being sarcastic), but I absolutely hate trash talking.
And I don't mean that in the "this athlete totally trash talks the other team/opponent!" I mean the gossip that can run rampant when a group of people are interacting in too-close vicinities for too much time. This can be anything from a workplace to school to a gym... anywhere. The second someone isn't in the room, two or more people harp in on complaining about said person. And I'm like the XKCD cartoon, where I wish I could back away and find a group that is talking about giant squid instead.
Maybe it's because I abide by the quote, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." Maybe it's because I get post-traumatic flashbacks to my high school days. Maybe it's because the older I get, the more I deal with complain-worthy people in my life by either limiting contact with them or (if that's not an option) figuring out how I can process or communicate their bullshittery. Maybe it's because I recognize that our brains actually feed off of us venting negativity (thanks, operant conditioning!), making us actually more inclined to complain in the future.
Or maybe it's because I fully recognize that if these people are so easy to talk smack about someone this way when their back is turned, what is stop those people from talking about me in the exact same manner? Maybe that's incredibly narcissistic and egocentric of me, but still a good reason for distancing yourself from people who get into gossip and shit talking like this.
I say this because I ended up in a group situation somewhat recently where the conversation quickly turned to how negative a certain person is. I internally chuckled -- yes, let's bitch and moan about how someone else is negative! It made me think about former workfriends and the amount of gossip and shit talking they would do, and how I could tell deep down that I was not immune to this cycle of two-facedness. This is something I experienced at multiple jobs -- including an internship or two -- and this is something I experienced in high school like you wouldn't believe. Was it ever worth it? Did it ever really make anyone feel better? For the most part, the gossip hid underlying issues: that the workplace conditions were toxic, that we were stressed, that something else was going on. And instead of addressing what actually needed to be addressed, everyone sat around and rolled their eyes over what this or that person had said on Facebook.
Of course, I'm no better, bitching about it on a blog, but -- hey, life is all about a little hypocrisy, no? The nice thing about being in the real world, and being in a line of profession like instructing classes, is that I have a lot of freedom to associate and disassociate with whoever I need to. And I've lucked out so far: my bosses have been incredible, my students are (for the most part) great. And since it takes so much effort to stay in touch with friends, I can let those who need to slip, slip, and focus on those who I truly want in my life. It's frustrating when you realize that a group you connect with might not be as universal as you'd like them to be, but, hey, that's life. And life is all about things not possibly going to plan, no?