The morning news headlines were that Ryan Gosling might play Christian in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie; Justin Bieber threw up twice during his very recent “Believe” tour in Glendale, Arizona; then you caught your neighbour smooching ‘not his wife’ on your early morning jog.
Gossip. We were taught that it’s bad, but why does it feel so good to hear it and re-tell? How come an entire industry has been created around it? Sure there are the reality television and gossip rags but have you also noticed that most news channels today are also more drama than actual real facts? Journalism ethics are less important than ratings and how great you look on camera. It’s a sad and scary state when some of our only unbiased world news comes from shows like The Daily Show and the Rick Mercer Report!
According to CoreCounselling.ca, the word gossip means chatting with our “godsibs” or what we might refer to as god-parents or those who were close to our family. The Scientific American reports that researchers have been researching about the ‘predilection of talking about people who are not present’, basically looking into why we find information about other people so interesting.
Scientists have concluded that when humans lived in small groups the chance of bumping into unknowns was basically a rare event but gossip helped us ‘survive and thrive’. This allowed us humans to bond and make friendships, to learn who to trust, to be taught social skills and this kept us in line. Gossiping about others today can teach us by example and boost our self-esteem (wow, can’t believe Frank would risk his family for a meaningless affair) and gives us an outlet to project our own fears, hopes and jealousies.
But why do we gossip about our children, spouse and others we are supposed to love, cherish and adore? According to some of my BFFs it’s not a harmful thing: “I need to vent, I feel better when I work things out by talking it through.” Having someone simply listen to our worries about our sick grandma, a disagreement with our spouse or our challenges with raising children, makes us feel validated. “It’s like thinking out loud — writing in a diary or seeing a shrink,” explains one BFF. Being surrounded by people who support you, but can also give you advice or just confirm that what is happening to you is normal can make you feel better and that what you’re dealing with is important.
I once had a mom friend, who was nice but would not talk, ever. We would find out certain things through (yes, gossip) school, her husband or her kids. She would be content sitting there smiling and hanging out during parties or ladies’ nights, but would not really chat. It made all of us feel insecure and wonder which side she was on: could she be trusted with our secrets if she never gave up any?
Basically when it comes to gossip, we just want to matter. “We want to have something to give to the group, a way to stand out, belong and be seen and heard,” said one BFF. Sure there is the risk that it could come back and embarrass or hurt you, but apparently the desire to gossip outweighs the risk. Maybe scientists are onto something and perhaps they should be invited to listen in on my next ladies’ night.
What do you think? I love feedback: FB, email or tweet me!
The Hudson St-Lazare Gazette – October 17 2012 – Julie Cadieux
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