Someone found this blog recently by searching, “What’s the point of gossip?”
I’ve talked about gossip before on this blog, but I’ve never shared my theories about why people do it.
1. They assume the worst interpretation is the most honest one. If you sneeze, you have ebola. If you drink one beer, you’re clearly an alcoholic. If you say you like X, that means you hate Y.
2. It makes them feel better about themselves. This reminds me of the parable about why you should put more than one crab in a bucket. If there are two or more of them in there, none of them them can escape because the other crabs will pull the first one down if he or she climbs up too high. (I wishes Snopes would verify whether or not this story is true!)
3. They want to be accepted. The problem with this is that if you make friends with a gossiper you never know what they’ll say about you when you leave the room.
4. It’s a habit. And habits are hard to break.
5. The truth is boring (to them). What I find most amusing about habitual gossip is that it’s virtually never about people living happy, quiet lives. There is almost always the assumption that if you appear to live this way, you must have even more to hide than the average person.
Cynicism, which people think makes them look smart, is killing us.