Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Joy of Gossip

Barbara Walters once said, "Show me someone who doesn't gossip, and I'll show you someone who isn't interested in people." Gossip's got a bad name, and I think it might be high-time to rescue it from the realms of tawdry tabloid nonsense and mean-spirited fibbing. Is it crazy to think that gossip might actually be healthy when practiced in moderation? In her book, The Art of Conversation, Catherine Blyth suggests that good, old-fashioned gossip is a balm to society's increasingly alienated sense of community and intimacy. She says:

"To me, gossip is a growth industry, ever more essential in atomized urban society, as family ties weaken and networks grow wider, looser, and diffuser...While monitoring a virtual crowd of internet pals can accentuate loneliness if you're not truly in touch, gossip remains frienship's primary medium...{103}"

I think of gossip as a form of social analysis -- like talk therapy, minus the person who probably needs the therapy. People are fascinating. I want to know what makes them tick, why they say and do the things they do {I'm also a bit obsessed with self-analysis, but that's a subject for another time...}. You will rarely find me gossiping about people I don't like, or who, at the very least, I don't find interesting. You will also never find me making something up about someone out of boredom or animosity. People are far too interesting for this to be necessary!

Here are some more reasons why we could all use a dose of healthy gossip:

  • It makes us feel better -- it allows us to see that things could be worse; at least we don't have that habit, problem, or compulsion!
  • It gets us excited. Have you ever noticed how animated people get, how their eyes light up, when you tell them you have a juicy tid-bit?
  • It's an amazing conversation catalyst. Is the discussion creeping to a halt? Mentioning a mutual friend's latest faux-pas usually gets things animated again.
  • It creates a bond. Any time friends can get together and analyze, relish, question, ponder, or simply laugh at something {or someone} together, intimacy and understanding grows.

I certainly hope I've given others occasion to gossip about me from time-to-time. How awful to think I've never done anything shocking enough to merit being gossiped about!

::What's your stance on gossip? Is all gossip bad gossip?

{P.S. I hope you didn't mind the crass, but hilarious, MikWright image above!}


Courtney said...

I am certainly guilty of participating in a bit of gossip. Though, I rarely spread unless I know it is fact. Keeps it gossip, rather than rumor. :)

Funny you posted this now. Just yesterday... ok, a few days ago I posted a status on FB about people needing to keep with the plans they make, do what they say they will, or keep their mouths shut. Boyfriend's bro called mommy to say I was bad mouthing her online. I wasn't. It was about holiday dinner plans made by one of the sisters. NOW the mom is POed at me, though the bro called to say he was wrong. She's completely ignoring us, and probably will treat my BF, myself, and our kids as though we don't exist right through Christmas. Like she did last year ALSO over something we did not do.

So while Gossip can be healthy, it can be also be dangerous.. in the mouths of Retards! ;)

Ashe Mischief said...

I know a playwright who once told me that gossip was man's way of praying for each other. I thought it was a beautiful statement, and true in a way, and I'd be lying if I didn't use it as a bit of justification for my gossiping ways..

Jill said...

Just back home from visiting family. I look forward to catching up on all things "Nada Elegant"

Courtney said...

This post has given me a lot to think about over the past few days. I'm mulling over some of those thoughts on my blog right now!

Sam said...

I'm all for it - if it's people I don't really know and it's light hearted - but I'm not into it when it's a mutual friend and it is tinged with nasty undertones.