Analyzing Gossip

March 28, 2012
Today I was sitting on the bus listening to some girls talk about people. They were being awful. I rolled my eyes, but then stopped to think, do I sound like that when I talk about other people? Let’s face it, we all gossip at one time or another. This made me think, is all gossip equal? On the rest of my bus ride home, I couldn’t help but try to answer this question. This is what I came up with:

There are three basic types of gossip; Entertaining, Venting and Reporting.

Entertaining: This type of gossip can be cruel. It can also be harmless. Gossip for the purpose of entertainment is the typical “girls at a slumber party” gossip. It focuses on the looks and/or actions of another person. Because it is meant to be entertaining, the truth is often fabricated, thus starting untrue rumors. In most cases this type of gossip is meant for the enjoyment of others. The person “spilling” is not trying to bully or intimidate the person they are talking about (intentionally anyway). Most of the time the gossip is focused on light-hearted issues. This often results in the audience’s laughter. Laughter is often the desired response of the “performer”.

Venting: This type of gossip is centered on anger or jealousy. The person who is venting is trying to get their feelings about a person out, with or without the intention of hurting the person they are talking about. This person may be feeling jealousy, intimidation, anger or annoyance towards the other. Venting to a friend is seen as the only solution by this person. Venting is also used when a person needs to get something off their chest, or is simply seeking attention.

Reporting: Reporting is a very factual type of gossip. It is used strictly for the purpose of gathering and distributing information. With reporting, there is little to no emotional connection with the information, though there may be with the people that it is about. The main goal of reporting is to answer to “Who? What? Where? When? Why? And How?” questions. Because it is steers away from emotions, it is less hurtful; however, if the information is wrong, incorrect information is passed along without a second glance.

Further research shows that “gossip” actually comes from the Old English word “godsibb”-meaning “godparent”. I find this to be very interesting, and unexpected.

So what does all of this mean? I’ve concluded that while gossip isn’t a good habit to get into, it isn’t all harmful. Sometimes gossip can be necessary, in order to get things off your chest. On the other hand, gossip can be cruel and is often the seed of bullying. Just like many other issues, right and wrong are not cut and dry. We must look at both sides before making decisions or judgments.





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