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Have you heard the latest? How gossiping might help us to survive the pandemic

This article is not meant to distract from the social issues going around right now, here is a link with sources to help and educate.

‘Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve heard that someone had a corona party. Now I’ve also heard the claim that it is a social-distancing party, and that they are not worried about getting sick or effecting others. Isn’t that strange? I would have sworn that she told me that she wouldn’t risk someone's health, yet still she posted an insta story of herself and her boyfriend at a party? It almost seems to me like she is more afraid of missing out than catching the corona virus. So weird, I would never do that.’

Not to generalise, but you have probably heard this conversation at least a dozen times these months. Bonus points if you included the words: instagram story and ‘I would never’. Gossiping has transformed and taken on a new function during this social isolation period; it increases self-reflection and bonds us while strengthening our moral compass.

A recent Man Repeller article describes gossiping as “at its best, a shared language and a platform for deep, communal understanding” Simply put, gossiping can do no harm, as long as it is played according to the the rules of the very serious game of Gossip™:

  1. The info you tell should be info about a person

  2. The person must not be present

  3. The gossip should be evaluative, meaning: it should come with a moral judgement about the third party

The thing is, all humans partake in gossip in some sort of form. Despite what we are being told: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Alas, everyone loves gossip, and if they say they don’t, they are lying. According to Time Magazine, females spent 67% of their conversation time gossiping, while males spend 55% of their time gossiping. So yes, men do gossip, and the biggest difference is that they tend to call it ‘networking’.

Evolutionary speaking, gossip can give humans the ability to spread valuable information to a larger network. Simply said, when our network is too big, we tend to get information about people from others. If we look at social distancing and gossip, gossiping might give us the valuable information of who will be our best friends, and who would stab us in the back. Whether it be by spreading the virus or buying our beloved essentials. Gossip can force us to be good citizens and do the right things - discussing others having corona parties could potentially be the way to make sure that you stay at home.

Speaking from personal experience in my student life, gossip has shifted from purely juicy hookup stuff to moral dilemmas. Would you rather miss a party and stay safe OR go to a party and risk your safety? Gossip is setting the bar of what is socially acceptable and what isn’t. Gossip helps to keep people who don’t practice social distancing in check. The bare awareness that others are talking about us can keep us in line. Call it the categorical imperative of gossiping if you will.

And if you think that your talk is not gripping enough to anymore, don’t worry, everyone’s life has gotten considerably more boring and our gossip standards have probably gotten lower.

Start talking, and when your conversation turns into gossip (as it probably will), remember that something good can come out of it, as long as you have the right intentions. Even if it is to spice up your quarantine life or to have something to discuss besides the weather.

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