Let us face it: gossips get a bad rap. Smugly looking down from a moral high ground – and secure in the knowledge that we do not share their character flaw – we often dismiss those who are obsessed with the doings of others as shallow. Indeed, in its rawest form, gossip is a strategy used by individuals to further their own reputations and interests at the expense of others. Studies that have been conducted confirm that gossip can be used in cruel ways for selfish purposes. At the same time,
how many can walk away from a juicy story about one of their acquaintances and keep
it to themselves? Surely, each of us has had first-hand experience with the difficulty of keeping spectacular news about someone else a secret. When disparaging gossip, we overlook the fact that it is an essential part of what makes the social world tick; the nasty side of gossip overshadows the more benign ways in which it functions. In fact, gossip can actually be thought of not as a character flaw, but as a highly evolved social skill. Those who cannot do it well often have difficulty maintaining relationships, and can find themselves on the outside looking in.
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