I've been musing on the New York Times article on kindergardeners who bully. I'm thinking that one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was that they didn't gossip. Ever. If they spoke about someone else's weaknesses it was with compassion and a desire to help. My folks both knew a lot of people, not all of whom were easy to get along with. But I can't recall either of them ever saying anything derogatory about someone else, or telling others about a person's weaknesses, or being malicious in any way.
I don't like gossip, perhaps because I was raised without it. People get hurt. I feel yucky after I talk unkindly about someone. I know it's easy enough to have that dirty feeling fade; but I don't think inuring myself to the aftereffects is the solution. I'd rather steer clear in the first place.
Years ago, when I still hung out in ballet studios while classes were in session, the gossip just about drove me around the bend. Fortunately I had the excuse of managing small children while my bigger kids were in class, so I escaped having to listen to most of the unending talk. One day I stopped to ask one of the champion chatterers about something and mentioned, "Nah, I don't gossip." She replied, in utter amazement, "But... but...your life must be so full!"