Only after meeting Dr. Graham McFarlane in Queen's University, Belfast, I realised that no matter how much we raise our brows when we hear the word 'gossip,' we all do it eventually. Dr. McFarlane's doctoral research was on gossip. What a nice topic to research upon!!
Everyone irrespective of age and class, gossip. Perhaps the only exceptions are children who are quite innocent to do so. Gossip is not harmful or negative; talking about a person in their absence is gossip. We do it all the time. Earlier I always associated gossip-mongers with people who have lots of time on themselves and so idle talk their time away but NO. A stray remark about someone's hairdo or harmless talk about the food-habits of X is also gossip.
I remember as kids, we would be fascinated when my aunts and uncles would gather together after dinner and start talking about our relatives and friends. For them it was just an exchange of information (of course with their two bits to it) but technically they were gossiping.
I think the majority of the human race would be quite incomplete without their daily dosage of gossip. One must remember that gossip requires a dash of creativity and thus is prone to a bit of exaggeration. Gossip also should be distinguished from rumours and back-biting, both which have negative connotations.
Research reveals that gossip is healthy as it fulfills the need for talking out what is within us; Many conversations comprise of 15% gossip. But what makes talking about others interesting? I have not conducted any research but from my own experience, I can say that there is a certain amount of thrill involved while doing so. If one is talking about someone in the next room, then the whole talk is peppered with side glances to be alert if the person is approaching. And believe me, this involves a lot of multi-tasking: Soft tones, not referring to the person by name, being alert and so on.
Many social anthropologists have conducted many researches on this topic and they are quite interesting to read. One worthwhile observation is many people when charged with gossip bluntly deny the fact claiming that they are quite busy to be gossiping but incidentally the truth is something else. Every individual gossips.
So did you hear . . .
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