Ah, gossipmongers. You’re thinking about someone, aren’t you? Perhaps it’s your jealous friend that enjoys sharing juicy tidbits about others. Perhaps it’s your nosy co-worker that turns every break into a gossip session. Or perhaps it’s you.
Anyway, regardless of whether you have a habit of talking about other people and their private lives or not, the fact remains that gossip is meaningless and devious.
Behaviors such as talking behind someone’s back and spreading rumors about someone don’t accomplish anything and, moreover, they can harm both the gossipmonger and the person being gossiped.
Entrepreneur and author Sharon Schweitzer, who is also the founder of Access To Culture, says: “Spreading a malicious rumor doesn’t just hurt the subject of the gossip, but it makes the person gossiping look bad in a rude and immature way.”
And there’s more – social psychologist Laurent Bègue says: “About 60 percent of conversations between adults is about someone who isn’t present. And most of these are passing judgment.”
So, the real question is: Why do we gossip?
Well, you may find this surprising, but what we choose to watch on TV is partly to blame for this. For instance, think about all those worthless reality shows we get to watch on TV every day and about the content they show. Reality TV series, such as Keeping Up With The Kardashians or The Bachelorette only increase our appetite for gossip.
Another reason why we decide to indulge in this guilty pleasure, even though our conscience screams at us that this is wrong, is that gossip helps people create social bonds since the dislikes someone shares with others actually build stronger connections than the shared likes.
The thing is that talking behind someone’s back means that you risk making yourself look shallow and rude, so badmouthing others is a sign that they really have trust in the person they’re talking to. This, in turn, makes the other person feel more comfortable to share their own secrets and some juicy details about another person’s private life.
The sad thing is that people who regularly engage in gossip rarely feel guilt or remorse for spreading rumors about others and tarnishing their reputation. What they usually feel is a sense of comradery and acceptance. And more often than not, many gossipmongers simply enjoy other people’s failures and misfortunes – although such pleasure is malicious.
So, if you agree with us that gossip is nothing else but junk food for the mind and if you want to know how you can save yourself from being sucked into gossiping, look no further. Psychologists say that the following phrase will do the job:
“Why are you telling me this?”
Saying this to a friend who is trying to involve you in a vile gossip session will immediately let them know that you’re neither curious about nor happy with the discussion. The gossipmonger will certainly be taken aback at the directness of the question, but they’ll also know that you have no intention whatsoever of badmouthing anyone.