Wednesday, June 12, 2024
UncategorizedGossip, the social glue

Gossip, the social glue

Under the pretext of conversing or discussing some business, we proceed barely to an altogether unnecessary and empty conversation, then we are taking off to gossiping, writes Befikadu Eba.

I had a brief meeting with a woman. She is kind, courteous, and generous. The old-fashioned date begun well with both of us asking questions about the other. The conversation was going swimmingly until, after a little while, the lady begun to talk about herself and could not stop! The questions about me ceased, and everything I say was simply a launching pad for her to bring up something else about herself. This woman had to vocalize every single thought. When she left, it struck me that I’d never before experienced the feeling of being pleased to see the departure of somebody I liked, at least at the first impression. This lady inconceivably managed that. There might be few possible explanations – she’s so excited about what she’s discussing that she gets carried away and doesn’t realize that I haven’t spoken in twenty minutes; she sensed that I’m a good listener, and simply runs with it; she’s nervous and was trying to impress me, the list goes on.

Most of us have encountered some individuals who speak more than others do. The volume, speed and/or duration of their orations leave listeners at a loss as to how to handle such incessant talkers. There are people who just have to talk, and talk, and talk even if the audience gives them an obvious, overt body language clues to please shut up. Some even keep on after being directly ignored. When does this need to keep babbling go from being an annoying habit to a genuine psychological issue? Is compulsive talking an offspring to gossip?

There is some assertion that people who talk too much and ‘socialize’, no matter how little work they do, get ahead professionally and socially regardless because they talk to everyone and they network. True, some socializing and networking is generally helpful. But if we don’t have accomplishments to go with it, high performers, who are the ones we want to be associated with, are going to fairly quickly see us as time-wasters.

There is a good reason that we talk too much. Even science says that humans, beings are social animals, are programmed to use communication as a vital tool to survive and thrive. This gift of speech was also given to us that we might understand one another, not through instinct but through intellect. Thus, we verbally express our ideas, which are abundantly and clearly opened to us by our mind, the source of thought and word. If, however, under the pretext of conversing or discussing some business, we proceed barely to an altogether unnecessary and empty conversation, then we are taking off to gossiping.

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Given today’s society has transformed itself to be more private than public, with everything focusing on the private than public aspect of life, there has become increased interest in people’s lives that logically increased interest in gossip. Even before social media and texting gave us the ability to spread gossip at swift speeds, we have always known that everyone loves a good, luscious piece of dirt about someone else.

Most of us believe that nothing good comes out of gossip. Perhaps gossip is full of contradictions. People do it even though they think they shouldn’t. It can bolster one person’s reputation while destroying another’s and it can establish a trusting bond between two people while betraying the trust of a third. People who gossip too much can develop a reputation for being untrustworthy or too talkative. But people who don’t gossip can develop a reputation for being distant or arrogant. 

Of course, trading intimacies and confidences has always been the mainstay of socializations. Whether we believe it or not, the act of gossiping – talking, listening, sharing secrets and stories – bonds us together and helps us to form friendships and distinctive group identities. Though women more often earn the ‘gossip’ label, both genders take part in the habit with equal zest.

Gossiping may actually help us to adapt better in social environments, and allowing us the opportunity to self-improve and even expose potential threats. It also increases our self-promotion – for we know do better than other people, but it also increases our self-protection concerns – as we realize we could potentially be affected by whatever negative treatments befell the person we are gossiping about. Gossip also tends to lead to self-improvement insofar as we hear about something great happening to someone else; hence indirectly suggesting ways that we can improve upon ourselves.

Gossip is pervasive in our society, and our desire for gossip can be found in most of our everyday conversations. A lot of the time, people could learn the same information about social rules and standards through observation. However, observing people’s behavior takes longer and requires more effort than gossip does. In other words, gossip can help people learn how to behave and how to understand social norms faster and more efficiently than direct observation can.

Too much pressure can, of course, be a bad thing, and we can understand the otherwise destructive powers gossip has. People often use gossip for their own selfish interests at the expense of others. Subtle social cues can turn to hostility or manipulation and quickly trigger anger and resentment.

Well, lying is wrong, and that’s one of the reasons so much gossip begins with “I heard” or “someone told me.” Attributing a statement to someone else takes the responsibility for its accuracy away from the person speaking. But this technicality doesn’t make it ethical to gossip in this context. 

Alas, my date I mentioned at the beginning was not to be. Atleast, I couldn’t see myself listening to her nonstop chatter for ‘years’. It popped up an old joke to me that summed up how I would end up if I so desire to live ‘listening’ ever after. A man and a woman were having a divorce, on the basis that the man did not talk to the woman for two years. When the judge asked the man why he hadn’t talked to his wife for two years, his answer was ‘I did not want to interrupt her’.

Ed.’s Note: Befikadu Eba is Acting Head of Credit Analysis and Processing Division at United Bank SC. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected].


Contributed by Befikadu Eba


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