Gossip: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Someone cheated on their significant other. A coworker let slip news about who’s being let go. Acquaintances had a falling out.
These are often pieces of information that many wouldn’t bring up in large groups. Instead, they would talk about it in hushed voices, away from the crowd, only with their closest friends
We’ve all encountered our fair share of juicy news we can’t help but talk to someone about. Gossiping is one of the most common types of human interaction. Despite that, it still carries many negative connotations and is often seen as something done with malice and hatred. But is it all that?
Does spilling the tea have any benefits? Or is it a practice that’s best left avoided?
What’s Good about Gossiping
Gossiping is rarely seen as positive behavior, but that doesn’t mean it cannot benefit people. Here are a few possible advantages to spilling tea.
- It can help people feel better
When someone feels like they’ve been wronged, one way to help them process it is by talking about it with another. A study found that gossiping about venting about people who “violated norms” can already reduce the negative effect that they caused.
- It can form relationships
People who react similarly to a piece of information could find that they share similar values and experiences in life. Here, it can be seen that gossip can be the seed of some relationships. Moreover, a study found that while unjust behavior raises the observer’s heart rate, gossiping can help bring it back down. This shows that gossiping can help people calm down together.
- It keeps others informed
One of the earliest forms of communication was gossiping. With groups growing into entire communities and societies, it became difficult for our ancestors to keep up with what everyone was doing and how they were going.
Scientists and scholars have spoken about how our ancestors would gossip to share valuable information about people who might be threatening the integrity of the group.
To this extent, it can be seen that certain types of gossiping or simply passing on information from one person to another can help keep people in the group in check. It can reinforce shared values by criticizing lousy behavior. Be that as it may, there are still others who can’t imagine gossip being used for good for several reasons.
What’s Bad about Gossiping
While gossiping can have positive effects, its negatives are more well known. Below are a few possible reasons why gossiping isn’t often encouraged by people.
- It can produce conflict
If someone secretly spreads hate toward someone else, it could lead to rifts in the group. People might start turning against each other because of what was said about them, which can lead to further confusion and miscommunication. This can tear people apart, jeopardizing situations where unity is needed for success, such as at work or in team sports.
- It can tarnish reputations
Someone with a record of missing deadlines may not be as trustworthy as someone who always makes them. If the former person is gossiped about, their mistakes could spread, and their reputation stained, possibly leading to even fewer people trusting them.
- It can be unproductive
No one wants to be talked about behind their back. When people know that they could become the subject of gossip, it could hamper their productivity and lower their trust and morale in the group. This emphasizes how gossiping can be both helpful in bringing groups together and also causing them to spread apart too.
Gossiping is one of the oldest human interactions. It’s brought people closer together while also tearing groups apart. It can become a seed for relationships to form, but it can also ostracize others.
Whether you think gossiping is good or bad, what could be more important is what you use it for. Is it to help friends stay informed? Or is it to tarnish another’s reputation behind their backs? That will ultimately decide whether the tea is worth spilling.