Opinions: Rocca-ing the world: Shhhh… Wanna hear a secret?

Make things matter


Lauren Rocca

Nathan Cheung, Catimona Morris and Sean Markley (12) chat during lunch, Dec. 12.

But here’s a warning before you answer… This is a trap.

Instead of answering this question, let’s talk about us.

Kindness Week got me thinking about what true kindness is.

Is it giving someone a gift? Maybe.

Is it paying a compliment? Of course.

But genuine kindness often happens behind the scenes when we choose integrity and silence over gossip, when we choose not to hear the secret.

When we get bored and insecure with our lives, we tend to fall back on the pettiness that is gossip. I know that I’m guilty of this.

A lull in the conversation tends to drift towards the first person that comes to mind just to fill the silence.

Sitting in silence, we look to our left and see Susy Lou’s hair is not brushed, and, suddenly, a spark ignites in conversation. “Look at her hair. She looks like she just rolled out of bed.” And everyone agrees. Still, the conversation dies after about 30 seconds of this pointlessness.

An insecure moment turns into a bashing session against that person who drives us insane.

Someone brings up an embarrassing moment from the weekend, like getting a speeding ticket. So, in defense, we mindlessly say, “Well, yeah. But did you hear what Susy Lou did this weekend? I heard she got arrested.”

For a while, it lifts us up and creates this illusion in our own heads that we are above that person we “literally hate.”

Gossip is a drug, and we are all addicted. Not just teenagers. Our society as a whole.

We pass it around, dealing out our best stories, hoping to excite someone with the most shocking news we have.

And once we hear an intense story, the mild gossip just doesn’t cut it anymore.

So then come the rumors, the enhanced stories people tell to keep the interest of their “gossip consumers.”

And when the story is over, the ensemble of criticism comes.

“She did notttt!” “You’re kidding!” “What a slut!” We feed off of other people’s failures.

This criticism is not constructive; it isn’t worth anybody’s time.

“At least we didn’t do that.”

“At least we weren’t that stupid.”

“At least I haven’t sunk to that level.” 

But that could be me someday.

I will make a mistake, and I will be the failure that feeds people’s insecurities.

So let’s make a deal. Let’s stop the gossip now. Me. And you. If not for others, for ourselves.

How about we speak of our ideas. Our passions. Our crazy, maybe unrealistic dreams.

Then we have the opportunity to guide ourselves away from our own selfishness and ask other people about their dreams and their ambitions.

Let’s try and speak to other people instead of about other people.

I mean, honestly. How many of us have ever come out of a conversation based solely on bashing and gossip, thinking, ‘Wow. What a great conversation?’

I wanted to find out.

So I went around the lunchroom and hallways asking people what makes a good conversation. I have not deleted any answers, or formed any of my own.

What does make a good conversation?

“A good topic, like, stuff that’s happening in the world.”

“Talking about things that you like and things you’re passionate about.”


“Human rights.”

“Discussing ideas about the world and ways to make the world better.”

“Talking about funny stuff you’ve done.”

“Plans for the future and deep thoughts.”

“Thought-provoking questions, like, “What happens after death?”


“When the topics flow together and you end up saying…’Woah, how did we even start talking about that?’”

“When something sparks a new idea and changes your perceptions of the world.”

“The environment.”

Whaaaaaat? Are you guys telling me that gossip is not the most interesting conversation?


I asked the question to people who didn’t really know what I was writing about. I hoped no one would say, “Gossip.”

And nobody did.

I was pleasantly surprised. And even proud.

Although, it did get me thinking: Why do we even waste our breath on gossip when we could be talking about all these thought provoking and exciting topics?

I can only think of one reason: It’s easy.

Anyone can talk about other people. We’re surrounded by them all day, every day.

A lot of people can talk about situations. Things happen every day.

But ideas? The people who can talk about those are the conversational winners, the inventors, the Steve Jobs of the world.

And don’t we all want to be “conversational winners”? Inventors? Steve Jobs?

None of us were meant for average minds, average lives or even average conversations.

So instead of talking about what Susy Lou did that one night at that one party with that one guy who I can’t quite remember the name of, let’s talk about something that matters.

Let’s talk about something with substance.

Let’s post something that will make people laugh… and not at the expense of another person.

Let’s revolutionize conversations.

Let’s question the world around us instead of just aimlessly criticizing what is already here.

Instead of saying how weird someone dresses, ask, “What is the best material for fuzzy socks?” Or instead of bashing someone’s “ugly” phone case, ask, “Why do we use phones that so easily shatter?”

The possibilities are endless.

The only secrets that need uncovering are the one’s that change something for the better.

So let’s start a conversation that matters.