We all have done that, we still do that, and we will continue to do that, as a race, in future as well. I am talking about Gossip. And we all have been part of it, either in an active way or a passive way. Gossiping is fundamental to being human, and this is what separates us from animals, claims a social psychologist. In a recent issue of Scientific American Mind, Professor Frank T. McAndrew offered this widely accepted definition: “of gossip as “the practice involves talking about people who are not present and this talk is relaxed, informal and entertaining.
Gossip Actually is a Sign of Evolution
Why exactly do all humans seem to have such a lust for gossip? Blame it on our ancestors. According to McAndrew, our predecessors lived in intimate groups in which members had to rely on each other, but also engage in competition for limited resources. Those who had the savvy to gather information about their fellow group members achieved more success and passed their knowledge-seeking genes on to subsequent generations. Hence, our desire to get the scoop on friends, colleagues and enemies may be innate.
Ironically, Gossip May Actually Be Moralistic in Nature
McAndrew, along with other researchers believes that when controlled, gossip can be a major asset to humans. Individuals not only forge bonds by sharing information, but they effectively maintain the norms and tenets of their group culture. When one person is the target of gossip, the group quickly identifies him or her as a violator of its standards. After all, by McAndrew’s definition, gossip is usually characterized by information we can evaluate on a moral level. So by outing those who defy social ethics, the group as a whole can prosper and thrive.
Gossiping—Healthy—Helps in Team Building
McAndrew concludes his article with the assertion that “successful gossiping is about being a good team player and sharing key information with others in a way that will not be perceived as self-serving and about understanding when to keep your mouth shut.” So the bottom-line it looks like healthy gossiping is a good attribute for being a great team player—but when you run a mill you should always be cautious not to cause a fire J. As with many other things in life, gossip in moderation may just be the right medicine to being happy and cheerful. As a few say, “A gossip a day, may keep the doctor away.”
As the old saying goes, “It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper.”