The motivation behind gossip

Gossip - Laila HackI’m sure we can all agree that we have all gossiped or started a rumour about an individual or a group of people before. Many of the conversations that we hear other people having or even conversations we have ourselves seem to be filled with discussions about others.

This week, I found myself questioning those I have come in contact with as to why gossiping is something that is so widely done.

No one likes to be talked about yet everyone finds himself or herself talking about someone at some point in their lives. One common reason that seems to be continuously brought to my attention is the fact that not many like to shed light on their own personal situations.

It always seems easier to talk about another person’s struggles as opposed to talking about our own. Transparency is not a go to approach when we are talking about ourselves in conversations.

Will gossiping and the spreading of rumours ever really stop? No one likes it but we all do it. Maybe not intentionally, but it happens because we tell a close friend who may tell another close friend and before you know it everyone knows what Jerry did on the weekend (For the record Jerry doesn’t exist)

What if we decided to dispel rumours? The second someone tries to negatively talk about another individual we could respond, “You know, I really am not interested in talking about another person in that manner.” I brought this suggestion up to a group of people and they all agreed it would just make the conversation awkward and probably result in no conversation at all. I think it is just so comical that responding to that kind of conversation in a morally upright way could spark that reaction

It makes me wonder if those that are constantly talking about other people can’t find anything better to talk about. Also, could it be that another reason we choose not to respond in that manner is because it actually sparks our interest? Our first instinct isn’t necessarily to run as far as we can away from someone who is about to tell us some juicy gossip about another person. Why are we so very interested in another person’s mess when we all have our own stuff to figure out?

No one is perfect but when someone does things in a completely different way than us, all of a sudden it is something up for discussion. The person being talked about could be doing the same exact thing we are doing, but because our situation is hidden we take pride in hearing about that individual. After doing some research there were two interesting facts that stuck out to me about the psychology of rumours.

According to my research, rumours are most prevalent when they already appeal to our current biases about an individual or a group of people. If someone confirms our negative thoughts about an individual, it is easy for us to get caught up in whatever that person may be telling us.

Secondly, we are very eager as individuals to believe a negative rumour about someone we are already envious of. To analyze, I think this really emphasizes the character of some individuals. Why is it that we care so much about elevating ourselves at the expense of putting others down?

I’m sure there are some out there who do not religiously gossip and spread rumours. Maybe this is a tad bit unrealistic, but how amazing would it be if we lived in a world where negative slander about others was not so common? Maybe we should all go a day without talking about another person in our conversations. This way we would be able to see if maybe the issue lies within us and not those we find ourselves talking about.

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