Thomas-Sully Gossip- -Private-collection

Thomas Sully Gossip- -Private-collection

There is in human nature the desire to gossip or chatter about others.  Anyone who says they haven’t done it isn’t being honest with themselves.

Gossip is described as:

Gossip is idle talk or rumor, especially about personal or private affairs of others. It is one of the oldest and most common means of sharing facts, views and slander. This term is used pejoratively by its reputation for the introduction of errors and variations into the information transmitted, and it also describes idle chat, a rumor of personal, or trivial nature.

Gossip has been researched in terms of its evolutionary psychology origins.[1] This has found gossip to be an important means by which people can monitor cooperative reputations and so maintain widespread indirect reciprocity.[2] Indirect reciprocity is defined here as “I help you and somebody else helps me.” Gossip has also been identified by Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary biologist, as aiding social bonding in large groups.[3] With the advent of the internet gossip is now widespread on an instant basis, from one place in the world to another what used to take a long time to filter through is now instant.

The term is sometimes used to specifically refer to the spreading of dirt and misinformation, as (for example) through excited discussion of scandals. Some newspapers carry “gossip columns” which detail the social and personal lives of celebrities or of élite members of certain communities

So recently a couple of people I know have been going through some difficult  stuff.  And one of these people is now being chattered about.

Pieter Brueghel the Younger

Pieter Brueghel the Younger

Yesterday a mutual acquaintance told me how this one person was gossiping about one of these people.  This person wasn’t chattering in a “oh I am so sorry, the poor dear” kind of way, they were gossiping in the “they have always been envious of this person’s life” kind of way. Sort of the super negative “aha” moment.

The person being dished by this other person would quite possibly be terribly hurt if they knew.  The great irony of course is the person “spreading the love” so to speak has hardly lived a pristine existence and truthfully that disturbs me.

What is it about human nature that makes some people relish the distress of others?  And why would you do that to someone who has only shown you kindness?

Why is it in the human dynamic to be cruel to one and other?

Have I lived the perfect life? No.  But I like to think I am honest about who I am and I do try to be nice to people.  Are there some people it is near on impossible to be nice to? Yes indeed. And that includes this person mentioned above “spreading the love”.

Truthfully, this person “spreading the love” is in the category of those people you choose not to have in your life after a point and this is why: because no matter how bad it gets for them they keep repeating the same pattern of mean and destructive behavior.  The pattern (specifically)  is they always somehow end up doing something not so nice to the people who show them kindness.  Psychologically I can only wonder what they are punishing the world for still, but the truth of the matter is none of us are getting any younger. Sooner or later you have to let crap go and move on.

I have met men who were terrible gossips, but truthfully it is an especially female weapon.   It is used in my opinion most often to wound and hurt instead of the person really addressing what is wrong.

For example, I have a friend  who is divorced who started dating again a few years after her divorce.  She met this great guy.  So nice in every way.  He is not quite finished with his divorce and although he was not the half of the equation who began his process, on the other side of his divorce table is a person who has created revisionist history.

And with that revisionist history comes malicious gossip that couldn’t be farther from the truth. As if my friend who came along way after their process began caused the issues to begin with.  And what recourse does my friend have? None, truthfully, because this person is spreading this brand of love to get more attention for themselves.  And if my friend reacts, it will be at her expense.

Why are women so cruel to each other?  Some say it is a basic evolutionary drive of women that men don’t have.  Some say it is low self-esteem. I think personally some people are just mean and have nothing better to do.

An article in Women’s Day Magazine asserts the reason gossip exists is to figure people out:

“Psst…what’s the latest?” We’ve all done it: passed on a juicy piece of  gossip or listened eagerly to someone else’s dish. And although we may have felt  a twinge of guilt, we kept gabbing anyway.

The truth is, 80 percent of our everyday conversations are purely personal,  with more of them being gossip than anything else, according to a 2009 study by  Nicholas Emler, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Surrey in  England. The main reason we keep going back for more: “It’s irresistibly fun,”  says Frank McAndrew, PhD, a professor of psychology at Knox College in  Galesburg, Illinois….But that’s just part of the story. Why we do it…..The short answer: to figure each other out. Since we don’t ever really know what  other people are thinking, collecting information from and about them—in effect,  playing amateur detective—is as close as we can get to being inside their heads.



And then there is this whole gang gossip.  This week I found myself plunked in the middle of a group conversation concerning something that happened on a group Facebook Page I am on.  It wasn’t something taken off the board by the page administrator, it was a bunch of women pissed off AT  the page administrator.  Who is a friend of mine.

The thing is this however, I haven’t been on the page much, and have absolutely no idea what they are talking about, nor do I care or want to be part of it.  I was somewhat astounded the way they were kind of picking this person apart. It was like high school all over again. And to me, it was just gossip.  I didn’t get into it, just sort of exited the conversation.

And again, I am not perfect, have gossiped a day or two in my life. So maybe I am just evolving as an adult, but recently I have noticed how women use gossip and words as a weapon.  None of it has been directed at me, but it has been right or wrong directed at people I know.  And in each and every case, not for any positive gain.  So at the end of the day I have to ask: maybe we should all try to be nicer to each other and stay out of the pain of others?

What do you think?