Gossip is described as an indiscreet and malevolent chit-chat about someone. However, gossip attracts and interests people. Thanks to social networks, this practice skyrocketed, augmenting the quantity of informations from which to draw.
Form a certain point of view it is clear why this can be useful, in small groups or communities, where it can be used to have a better comprehension of the relationships being forged. It seems gossip was born to understand whom to trust or not in order to survive. Gossiping created safety and alliances inside a group, reducing insecurity and anxiety thanks to the bonds it helps creating.
But that is not all. Gossip attracts other people’s attention, stimulates emotions, makes people feel part of the group, it helps to bond and influences thoughts and actions of other people. It gratifies and produces positive emotions. It can help to chat if there are fewer arguments or it can help to enhance ourselves in our interlocutor’s eyes. It can be seen as a social lubricant. Gossips are, after all, information thanks to which we can understand other people’s behaviours and the things of the world. It can make people feel better, showing how other people have problems as well. The unhappiness of the other normally makes people less envious. According to the scientific literature dealing with this topic, people tend to be interested in gossips about people of the same sex, age and with a higher social status, giving more prominence to negative news more than the positive ones. So, the negative gossip about the boss is more interesting than the positive one about our colleague.
But who tends to gossip? Usually the profile is that of a person with a poor interior world, so much so that he needs to fill it with facts about others rather than putting in the centre his own individuality, thoughts and emotions. Gossiping moves the focus from one’s shortcomings to those of the others, making the person feel less inadequate. However, these individuals are usually so disliked that they do not have people confiding to them, since they fear to be the object of the next gossip.
Gossiping can make feel like having allies and being safe. Gossips create a real group with which we identify , instead of one where we do not. Diminishing others can boost self-esteem, but it can also have negative connotation if it becomes a form of indirect aggression. A further trait of gossip is its ability to attract the attention on ourselves, making us feel powerful and interesting.
Gossip can also be used in a harmful way, causing dire consequences like pushing people to draw from social life or even to commit suicide.
There are many aspects in the use of gossip, but, maybe, the best thing to do is not to spread the gossip, stopping it. When concentrating on ourselves and our inner world, we do not need to fill that void with other people’s life.
Dott. Manuel Nicolè
Psicologo Psicoterapeuta Consulente Sessuologo