Gossiping: nasty or natural?

Is gossiping a good way to bond with your friends or does it perpetuate bullying?

Scarlett Welch
8th December 2021
Image from Pixabay @Ben White
We are all guilty of occasionally making a snide comment about someone or talking about someone else's relationship behind their back. Is this something that we should embrace, because we all do it, or does it have more malicious intentions that we should try and suppress?

For: Scarlett Welch

Gossiping tends to have very negative connotations. It is certainly the case that gossiping can be harmful and spread hurtful rumours. However, it's not all bad.

Gossiping is a stereotypical female trait, and historically women have been demonised for it, despite evidence which suggests that people of all genders gossip just as much as each other. On average, people gossip for 52 minutes a day. So if everyone gossips this much, why do we claim that we hate it?

As humans, we are instinctually interested in other people. Unsurprisingly, if we hear something interesting about another person, we want to discuss it and pass it on, and gossip is born. It’s how a lot of news travels, whether it’s about celebrities or people we know. Think back to recent conversations with friends - who can honestly say that a lot of the subject matter wasn’t about other people?

Whilst some gossip can be nasty, a lot of it is neutral or even positive. It can help us to learn about others, to bond with those who trust us with gossip and to give and receive advice on situations. And despite pretending we don’t, we all enjoy it. 

Of course, gossiping can get very nasty. If what we are gossiping about is untrue, or someone has told us the information in confidence, it can be harmful to pass it onto someone else. But this is an issue of what we are gossiping about, not the act of gossiping itself. So unless it’s malicious, carry on gossiping!


Against: Meg Howe

Gossiping is something that everyone does, but this definitely doesn’t make it right. I’m going to be quite frank here, and say it as it is: I don’t like gossiping! Gossiping is a bad habit and nobody deserves to have their personal lives discussed behind their back. 

And yes, I hear you: “gossip isn’t always bad”, but if you’re talking about somebody, it’s very easy to slip into negative discussions of that person. I think the biggest issue I have with gossip comes from the fact that we do it when the person/people that the gossip is about aren’t around. It’s normally never something we would say to their faces! Most of the time, I think it’s reasonable to give someone to benefit of the doubt when it comes to any situation they’re involved in, and when we gossip about them without them being present, they aren’t given the ability to justify their actions or stand up for themselves. 

Secondly, think about the way that gossiping might impact someone’s life. Things that people do and say can be taken out of context, and it seems as people that we’re very easy to jump to the conclusion that someone has done something wrong. Gossiping about someone’s actions, without giving them the ability to right any wrongs we might be saying, could seriously damage their reputation. And whilst gossiping may begin as something minor, it’s very easy for these things to turn into pretty huge allegations. Not only that, if you aren’t the empathetic type, think about the damage this could do to your reputation! If people think that they second they leave the room you’ll be taking about them, you’re very quickly going to lose friends and people won’t trust you anymore. 

Finally, we live in a world full of joy and excitement. And despite how cheesy this sounds, wonderful things happen every day that deserve to be spoken about. I truly believe that if the only thing you and your friends do if gossip about others, then you really are boring people! My advice to you: find something else to talk about! Maybe your favourite music, TV shows or films; discuss what’s been on the news; or your plans for the weekend. But stay away from gossip, it’s just down right nasty!

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