“Don’t gossip” would say a stern teacher in school, “solve the sum I have given to do ” And the two buddies who were too eager to talk about the latest story about Jim’s fight with Ronny had to be curtailed.
In the evenings we meet up friends and chat all along about every other friend of us. Who is doing what, who is dating whom and who is going to get married next.
In the office, while working, the phone keeps buzzing because of the chatter that keeps going on in the Whatsapp group.
While commuting back home after office, a quick visit to Twitter exposes us to the global gossip arena. Some people are complaining about someone while another group is defending someone. One says trust this person, others say don’t trust this person. Praises, abuses, allegations, aspersions..the virtual space becomes a replica of conventional gossip dens.
We like gossiping. We have, over time, tried to create more and more ways to gossip. No doubt the most visited sites on the internet are where gossips are facilitated to take place smoothly! Recall the success of Whatsapp? The most watched TV shows are ones which help us gossip. We love to gossip. It is in our DNA.
I am reading a book “A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. In the book, Harari says “The new linguistic skills that modern humans acquired about seventy millennia ago enabled them to gossip for hours on end. Reliable information about who could be trusted meant that small bands could expand into larger bands,”
“Even today the vast majority of human communication, whether in the form of emails, phone calls or newspaper columns is gossip..
“It comes so naturally to use that it seems as if our language evolved for this very purpose.
“Rumour-mongers are the original fourth estate, journalists who inform society about and thus protect it from cheats and freeloaders.”
I read an aritcle in the Telegraph after this, in which Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University, stated it nicely- “Gossip is what makes people human, because it allows us to pass on vital information about who to trust, and helps us bond with family and friends.”(1)
My reaction when I read it was to smile broadly. I never saw it this way. I like to understand the source of things we consider normal in our day to day life. I am the kind of person who dont talk much with people around and so consider gossip a waste of time.In my office I am seen as a ‘quiet person engrossed in his own world’ But now I see that I have my own way of gossiping. It is by writing in whatsapp or twitter or blog. I like reading and watching few talk shows which I like to talk about or write about later. These days, when we get exposed to so many debates on TV channels, it gives plenty of scope to gossip about who is good and who is not.Even I can’t avoid gossiping about it. It is afterall a primordial instinct to understand who to trust and who not so that we help each other be aware and keep ourselves protected in ‘our tribe’.
Concluding my thoughts, I would say that now I feel gossip as an unavoidable aspect of us. Gossip will happen. In office it often becomes a nuisance to become a subject of other’s gossip.But it will happen.We want to be part of gossip to know about people around us. It’s deeply ingrained. It is the quest to facilitate gossip which has helped us develop language and technology and a social order.