Gossip is actually one of the societal forces that brings us together and helps maintain social order. Gossip is not inherently bad; it plays an important role in keeping our society connected.
In order to survive it has been beneficial to know about the lives of those around you: who had powerful friends, who was sleeping with whom, and who might betray you when life gets difficult.
That knowledge helped people get ahead socially. People who aren’t interested in the lives of other people are at a disadvantage.
Knowledge is power.
The urge to share a controversial piece of news is a natural aspect of the communicative species we’ve become. We tend to think of gossip as a negative behavior — when, for instance, we share information behind someone else’s back that shows them in a bad light.
By definition, gossip is any talk about someone who isn’t present, and it’s usually about something we can make a moral judgment about.
And for some it’s their entertainment.
One study showed that women engaged in more neutral gossip than men, but the amount of negative and positive gossip shared among men and among women was the same.
And overall, people who were more extroverted tended to gossip more than those who were more introverted.
Next week we will cover good and bad gossiping. But as a start, please think carefully before you speak meanly about someone.
Is it true? Is it kind? And is it necessary?
We learn a lot about the social world around us when we gossip. What makes gossip good, bad or neutral is how we use the information, not the content of the tsismis.
A good gossiper is someone who people trust with information and someone who uses that information in a responsible way.
A bad gossiper is someone who shares information about others in order to get ahead, just to be mean, or just not thinking before he speaks. “Bad” gossipers can’t keep their mouth shut about private info, such as that their friend’s marriage is doing poorly.
However “pro-social gossip” serves to warn others. Good gossip is driven by concern for others and has positive effects. Gossip can help people know who to avoid and who to not trust.
- Think twice before you do it.
Are you harming someone by telling that story?
- Don’t gossip for personal gain
- Don’t distort information
Tell it like it is. Don’t exaggerate.
Gossip doesn’t do any good if its informational content is unreliable. Second-hand info is often inaccurate. Ask yourself three things:
is it true?
is it kind?
is it necessary?