Gossip Is a Social Skill, Not a Character Flaw
Sharing secrets is one way people bond, so avoiding gossip may lead to social isolation. Someone skillful at gossip can be socially informed and have a good rapport with others. On the other hand, someone who doesn’t gossip may become an outsider, neither trusted nor accepted by the group.
Gossip also helps to integrate newcomers into groups by exposing group norms and values.
This is a professional note extracted from an online article.
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Our prehistoric ancestors lived in small intimate groups. To survive they needed to cooperate with in-group members while also competing for mates and limited resources.
It was fundamental to know who was reliable, trustworthy, a cheater, a good mate and so on. To that end, an intense interest in the private dealings of others was beneficial and favored by natural selection.
The awareness that others are likely talking about us can keep us in line. Among a group of friends or coworkers, the threat of becoming the target of gossip can deter “free-riders” and cheaters.
Our interest in celebrities may feed off of this thirst for learning life strategies.
Our fixation on celebrities is reflective of an innate interest in the lives of others and an artificial sense of familiarity which tricks us into thinking they are important to us. But they also serve as “common friends” that serves as a safe subject of gossip to facilitate interaction between people.
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Gossiping is a fundamental human instinct because our lives are deeply rooted in groups and we depend on the people in our groups to survive.
We need to have as much information as possible about the people around us in order to accurately determine expectations, trustworthiness, viewpoints, and so on.
Gossip doesn’t only teach us about the person who’s the subject of the conversation, but also about the gossiper. When you gossip you tell others things about your attitudes, beliefs, and ways of dealing with people by seeing who and what you gossip about.
When you do join in, gossip can also strengthen your social bonds. It improves a group's cooperation and makes members less selfish, as well as a way of identifying and ostracizing untrustworthy individuals until they learn the lesson.
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