Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Gossip Girl...

Why do we all love to gossip so much? Come on admit it, even you men (in fact you're often worse than us women!). 

I personally find gossiping quite an uncomfortable pastime. I feel bad about talking about someone when they're not there, even complimentary things (although I do have an over active guilt reflex instilled in me as a child, that prohibits me from doing anything hurtful towards others, lest I spend the rest of my life feeling bad about it - and believe me in 33 years I have built up quite an impressive bank of things to feel bad about), because I can't bear the thought of being the cause of any hurt or upset. The only person I can really let loose and have an enjoyable gossip with is my bloke because we're so close it's like talking to myself. So doesn't actually count as gossiping, in my book anyway. And, that I can remember, we have never really discussed any of the malicious stuff (some people would call it juicy) anyway. I never discuss other peoples secrets (in fact I often avoid hearing them in the first place, because frankly I don't have enough space in my already guilt ridden psyche to carry around other peoples skeletons).

Gossiping has become much more intelligent and accessible these days. Not to mention dangerous. When I was a kid, it was whispered rumours and scratched in graffiti on desks that took at least one double PE lesson to get around, these days with Facebook and Twitter a rumour can be out there and doing damage in a matter of seconds. There is also that gossip website that was in the news recently, basically an online hurt book where kids can post rumours and gossip about other kids at their school. The idea actually leaves me cold at the thought of the number of people being hurt by that. And it's not just the school kids, we are all at it. We may not all gossip about real people (although if we're honest, most of us do at some stage) but how many of us buy those celeb magazines? Come on, if you're not going to admit to buying them yourself at least admit to having a sneaky peak at your girlfriends/wives/friends/doctors surgery copy (although the latter so out of date it's hardly worth it).

Why do we all love the gossip? As far as celebrity gossip is concerned, I do think there is a sense of living vicariously, it is an escape from the often banality of our lives, we think we are getting a piece of the rich life through them. The media is guilty of building them up then revels in watching them fall. But we play our part in it by (however secretly) enjoying the circus.

And why do some people seem to attract so much more of it? Because I'm sure there are a lot of "celebs" out there acting scandalously but they don't attract half as many column inches as people like, say, Jordan and Kerry? Are they more interesting than the others? And why is it that the celebs we love to gossip about seem to always be the most hated ones? It doesn't make any sense to me.

But local gossip? I don't really get the attraction. Especially if it's about someone I don't know very well (if at all) and don't give a shit about. In my research for this blog post, one theory that repeatedly crops up is the idea that gossiping helps establish a social pecking order, the people at the top (the gossipers) gossiping about those at the bottom (the gossipees). That doesn't say much about me, given that I have always been more of a gossipee than a gossiper.

We've all been the subject of rumour and gossip at some stage. What can begin as a harmless conversation can easily get out of hand and turn into a full on bitch fest. Malicious gossip could, I suppose, be considered a form of bullying. That word crops up a lot in our lives these days I know, but the effects of gossip and rumour can be totally devastating. One look at a newspaper you can find stories of children committing suicide after things that have been said about them on Facebook or a text message viral.

Thankfully for most of us, me included, gossip and rumour is actually harmless. In fact, as devastating as it felt at the time, I couldn't help but feeling a little bit cool that people actually thought I was interesting enough to talk about. God knows why they did, but I was so uncool that I wasn't going to correct people when they actually thought I might be interesting enough to be the subject of their conversation, however untrue the rumours may have been. The sad thing is, it can take a lifetime to live down negative and untrue gossip. I'm sure some of those kids at school, who I haven't even seen since and know nothing about me (and didn't actually know me or anything about me then either), would still think of me as I was rumoured to be, and I'm sure I am guilty of feeling the same about some of them.

But gossiping does not have to be negative or untrue. I heard on the grapevine that the headteacher of the local primary school had done all sorts of fantastic fundraising for the school. I had no idea whether it was true or not but when it came time to do my sons primary school application? I knew who I wanted to be teaching MY son.

That's partly my problem with gossip, right or wrong, good or bad, it shapes opinions. People pass judgement on others based on gossip, when judgement should, morally speaking, be made on fact and all the facts alone.

I think in this new intelligent gossip age we all have a responsibility to be careful about who we gossip about, who we gossip to and what we say. I would like to think I act fairly responsibly as far as my blog is concerned, I never ever use peoples actual names, and would never ever ever knowingly use my position to reveal scandal, or discuss anything hurtful. So those of you worried about conversations "popping up" in my blog can rest assured that you will remain anonymous and the conversation would only be discussed in the first place if it was considered appropriate and not gossipy!

But in my private life, as much as I would prefer not to consider myself a gossip, I expect I do do it more than I will admit to myself. But now I have worked on this piece, maybe I'll be more aware of it and change my behaviour.

Are you a gossiper or a gossipee? Or do you keep yourself pretty much out of all of it? Is that even possible?


1 comment:

  1. I have a theory, well i dont actually its my own selfish excuse....i religiously buy two well known celebrity gossip mags each week and love every awful part of it..why???? because it shows me that maybe not everyone has everything in life but everyone has something shitty in their life at some point!
    It makes me feel better that shitty stuff happens to everyone, celebrity or not!