I must confess. The rows of gossip magazines lined in the grocery aisles, look like a set of dominoes, as I pick up the US Weekly, my eyes gravitates toward Star. Do I really care if Kristen Stewart sat on Robert Pattionson’s lap in a bar? Do I really need to know if Jenifer Aniston is dating John Mayer again? The people behind these headlines are not integral to my life in anyway and I know they will never think of me, but yet, I’ve probably stopped my day to learn about them. Why?
It’s the power of gossip.
Long tem studies show that the content of gossip is universal and frequent. People spend almost a fifth or two-thirds or more of their day gossiping. If you calculate those numbers over a lifetime, it adds up to so much wasted time.
And I am guilty of it too. I’ve listened to gossip, participated in it, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve questioned the value in it. Often times, I’ve literally felt a bad taste in my mouth, thinking about the absurdity of such conversations. Most of the time there is no way to determine the veracity of what I am hearing, every time one person passes the story along, something changes, embellishments, exaggerations and more opportunities of untruth peak in between the words.
And really, the more problematic part is gossip’s destructive nature. People may base opinions on other people simply on what they heard about said individual. Knowing how gossip provides little utility, why does it penetrate so many people’s lives?
There may be several reasons why, insecurity probably topping the list. As people, we look for validation for our own behaviors, wanting to make ourselves feel better, by possibly denigrating someone else. It’s unappealing. It’s wrong. But it happens.
But can you stop it in your own life? You probably can. But I think it is a conscious decision.
I think you have to ask yourself, every time, would you say what you are about to say, if that person was listening?
What do you think about gossip? Have you made an opinion about someone based on what you’ve heard about him or her? Do you have any solutions to stopping gossip? What do you do if you have a friend who only wants to gossip?