Up for Some Gossip?

Friday, July 14, 2017


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'All literature is gossip'.
- Truman Capote

I feel bemused, when during a flight, a woman sitting on my left, my fairly 'new friend', leans in and tells me how sick she is of all the people in her life. I nod my head in sympathy, while my new friend goes on to narrate all of her in-laws' habits that sicken her. The list is endless. Meanwhile the flight stewards serve us food; she picks up her fork and looks at me. In her eyes, I see her saying, 'It's your turn to share'. I know there is still an hour for the flight to end so there is no way for me to get away with this (unless I take a shot at jumping off the plane). She awaits for me to pull a personal issue out of my pocket and put it on her tray table. This reminds me of a scene from The Silence of the Lambs in which Hannibal whispers to Clarice, 'Quid pro quo. I tell you things, you tell me things.' Understandably, the red curtain has opened with me in the spotlight - it's my turn to talk. Darn it!

Trading intimacies and confidences is the wampum of human relationships. We habitually cook and exchange sizzling and exciting stories of people around the water cooler; oh, so a colleague got a bonus... and why wouldn't that ugly duckling? She is the boss' favorite! We mercilessly resurface rumors about people the second they exit the room. Ah, the pleasure in gossiping! Some snide remarks shared with our confidantes can lead to such an emotional uplift, right? We all have, at one point or another, loved saying mean things about other people. Haven't we? 
                                                                                              
We are all mindful of the fact that gossips are as honest-to-goodness as the tooth fairies, yet this does not deter us from wallowing in them. We indulge in this guilty pleasure so frequently we even fail to notice how often it pervades the words we speak. Yes, each one of us knows talking behind peoples' back is immoral, yet, why we engage in these wicked, but oh-so-amusing little betrayals with such fervency? Is it the sense of self-satisfaction received through this behavior that pushes us to luxuriate in it? Why is our appetite for gossip insatiable?

This favorite pastime of ours is a surreptitious, feckless behavior. Ah! Yet it’s also a succulent, beguiling temptation, which fulfills our desire to be a part of the 'in crowd'. The gossiper is sending an underlying message, suggesting that the person being gossiped to is more valuable to them than the one being gossiped about. Here the pleasurable act of gossiping is encouraging social bonding which is based on 'sharing a little secret'. When two people speak ill of a third person, they are actually displaying their common moral standards and identical sense of humor. Add to that the titillation of transgression! And so the tale of two friends begins, with shared dislikes! Thank you for taking me in for a friend, I love to bitch about whom you love to bitch about as well. We're so much alike...awww!!! 

Gossiping also tends to build a sense of self-importance and superiority for the gossiper. How do people with negative self-concept and low self-esteem survive? By speaking negative about others! A gossipmonger is (supposedly) privy to details that others are not, elevating them in status. The moment you realize the listener is enthralled by the gossipy scoop, you feel like your purpose of life is served. The gossiper delights bathing under the sunshine of attention; they feel good, really good!

People also gossip because they are drawn toward the desire of comparing themselves and their lives to others, and this ultimately leads to self-projection. Someone may talk about another’s decision of career choice or marriage, for instance. In that critique, the gossip monger may be projecting feelings they have about their own decisions onto someone else. It’s an indirect way of speaking well of yourself, your decisions and your choices. It is a classic example of loud thinking without even having to bear the brunt of it.

Think of any gossip-lover you know! Now, think of one quality that makes them interesting! Ah! Lost you there, right? Most of these gossipers lack the knack of generating absorbing discussions. So, they rely heavily on discussing other people because gossips can easily rouse people's interests. Why, you ask? Because gossips are generally fun! (Of course, only when they're about someone other than your good, neat self!).

Gossipers are also among those who get frustrated and angry at others but lack the courage of showing it to their face, so they procure retributive justice with belittling comments, instead. It is a way to get back at the object of their anger. And it could prove to be very effective! 

Do you envy how she is appreciated and praised by everyone? Knock! Knock! Do I see smoke coming out of your chest? Do I smell burning? Somebody call the ambulance, please! Oh! That's just jealousy? Are you finding a way to feel better? Well, a few hurtful remarks about her wouldn't send you to hell, hmm? Gossiping is soothing and comforting when targeted toward somebody you're jealous of. No kidding! And stop acting as if you've never tried it. This has to be the most common factor of all. 

Most people have a powerful drive, a natural curiosity to snoop into other's lives. Gossip is one way to satisfy that wild desire, which makes your stomach growl. So, you've updates on her relationship status? Yummy!!! God, am I excited! Look at the excitement glow on my chubby pink cheeks! Can't hold it anymore...spill the beans, already. I feel like the very invention of theater, literature is based on the human love for gossip. Isn't it fun prying into people's lives, even if they're fictitious characters with no real existence?

The habit of gossip creates an unpleasant veneer of incredulity and reveals your insecurities. So, you don't like somebody because they've a pretty face? Hmmm... speaks volume about how you rate your own looks! You may end up losing relations, feeling lonely and winning a reputation of a loser, if you keep this routine up and going. Who wants that? Raise up your hands, please! I see none! In which case, I would suggest we better avoid being a part of the gossip mafia. 

Here is to those who have gossiped about us and those who have ever been our tasty menu for gossips! I think we are equal now - so, let's call it quits!

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32 comments

  1. Completely agree that gossiping can damage relations as well as show the true colours of a person. Only unhappy people gossip in order to make themselves feel better. Live a gossip free life and you'll be fine. Love the way this is written.

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    1. Thank you so much for the comment :) Yes, those who are sad and unsatisfied with their own lives love to indulge in this behavior. Hope sanity prevails and people start realizing how bad it could be.

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  2. You sure nailed with this! Gossip causes pain for the one being gossiped about, but it also has a negative impact on the person doing the negative talk. They are certainly not fostering positive feelings or relationships, just the opposite in fact.

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    1. Thank you so much, Sandy :) It sure has negative implications for both the parties, but sadly backbiters don't see that aspect of it. They find it fun, for some reason.

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  3. This was spot on. I never considered how the gossiper feels when they gossip. It makes them feel more powerful and important. It gives me some insight on how to handle certain gossipers in my office, instead of engaging with them. Super helpful, thank you!

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    1. Thank you, Chevelle. I am glad you found this helpful. Yes! It is a driving factor for the gossipers - feeling powerful and controlling. Now that you know what goes inside their head while indulging in this behavior, hope you can now deal with the gossipers at your workplace in a smarter way :)

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  4. SOmetimes we are more honest with strangers than we are with our friends.

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    1. I totally agree... it's the fear of judgement that makes us fearful with friends at times. We don't care what strangers think of us!

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  5. Gossip can bring damage for both parties, and it is sounds negative when you heard GOSSIP. So, as much as I can, I didn't do negative talk to another person.

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    1. That's good, Sylvia :) It should be always avoided. Negative talk can only do damage, no good can ever come out of it !

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  6. One should never entertain gossips, they bring damage to the person involved. Honesty is still the best policy

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    1. I totally agree - if a person has issues with someone, they should speak up on their face instead of backbiting about them.

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  7. Exactly! Gossip is good for no one.

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  8. Gossiping is one thing that I do not do. Being the brunt of many a joke at school, I know the feeling of being brought down gossip!

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    1. People gossip about everyone, trust me... it isn't just you or me. But yes, those among us are better human beings who avoid indulging in this awful behavior.

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  9. Gossiping is something that I think everyone has partaken on. It's a horrible natural instinct... almost. It says a lot about your character.

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    1. Yes, I think nobody could rightly say they've never done it. It becomes natural when we make it a habit. At one point, the gossiper even stops realizing how it permeates their conversations and actions.

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  10. Yeah, I've learned time and time again not to entertain gossip. Does nothing positive in the long run (or short)

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    1. I guess I have learned the same thing too - the best solution is to avoid gossip-lovers at all costs!

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  11. A very good piece of writing Amna...keep it up!

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    1. Thank you, Fatima. And please come again to read more !! :)

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  12. People will be people!

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  13. This is SPOT ON. I hate gossip. I have seen so much damaged caused by it. I feel it is a true reflection of that person. I have actually stopped people mid sentence and told they "Stop the gossip"! if they will talk about someone TO you...they will talk to someone ABOUT you.

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    1. very rightly pointed out.. You can never trust a gossiper. They have it in their nature to gossip just about everyone. So, better stay miles away if you smell them !!!

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  14. Gossip is never a good thing. If one has a question about something they need to ask the source and not just talk behind their back.

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    1. Yes, I agree. First thing first, we shouldn't be curious to know what's happening in people's life, but in case there is something which directly affects us or is connected to us somehow, then yes in that case, it is better to speak to the concerned person downright, instead of talking behind their back. Well said, doc :)

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  15. i like everything on your blog...Nice post...

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  16. visit first time on this post and really good post.. good work

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Amna's Goodreads Bookshelf

To Kill a Mockingbird
Animal Farm
Of Mice and Men
The Alchemist
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Romeo and Juliet
Lord of the Flies
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Odyssey
A Tale of Two Cities
Frankenstein
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
Les Misérables
Eat, Pray, Love
The Poisonwood Bible
The Joy Luck Club
Middlesex
The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Lolita
Under the Tuscan Sun


Amna Tariq Shah's favorite books »