February 23, 2012
Despite monumental changes sweeping across the world there are a few oft-repeated half truths which have come to stick to certain category of people. Like for example “gossiping” has always been associated with women though a study in Britain has revealed that guys who gossip outnumber girls two to one. It might be music to the ears of women or girls because men always got away both by gossiping and accusing women of doing it. So from now on, it will be a full stop for all those nasty jokes and sms’s based on ‘gossip by women”. Or rather is it going to be the other way round? Men had the cake and ate it too for long and now I wonder whether it is time to give it back to them with some interest! I can at least expect some chaffing and harmless sms’s to circulate as a result of this write up.
The study conducted by Dr Nicholas Emler also reveals another interesting facet of life i.e gossiping may actually be crucial for our survival. He supports his claim saying that it was gossip that had helped cavemen elect leaders and catch thieves. Dr Nicholas also says that it is gossip that sets us apart from other animals as it allows us to know about people that we have not met. This study also said that 80 per cent of our conversations are gossip, i.e. we end up discussing about other people, their lives and habits in our conversations in most of our conversations.
The study has also revealed that only 5 per cent of the gossip is malicious. According to Dr William Meller, an expert on evolutionary medicine, “gossip has been around since the first cave man overslept in a neighbour’s bed of branches”. But it is not clear whether this neighbhour was a male or female and through whom the gossip spread.
Even in our country, women for long have taken the blame as gossip mongers while men have easily and conveniently passed the buck on women and continued to indulge in their favourite pass time. When an English Daily in its Speak Out column last year asked this question “Do men Gossip” and invited readers to respond 76% of them said ‘yes men gossip’ and that too more maliciously and about everything under the sun. These respondents were very intense in their reactions because of their working experience in large offices. While this is only for those who go for statistics, the question that stands before us waiting for an answer is what is it that men gossip about? Do men gossip about their office atmosphere, their colleagues and friends, about their sex lives or even about their wildest and weird fantasies?
The answer is not difficult to find. While women generally talk about shopping, clothes, weight problem, in-laws and cooking, men have a wide repertoire of topics ranging from universal topics, celebrity gossip to neighborhood happenings, especially neighborhood women. They don’t hesitate to spread canards about their women colleagues, though they do it in a more subtle way unlike women who get more animated when they gossip.
Women who have the experience of working in offices must have been witness to many such bizarre incidents of how men gossip especially about all women they see and don’t even see. If it is sleaze or some love affair they are the first one to get wind of it and they get some sadistic pleasure in spreading it. Moreover, it is a common knowledge that sharing a juicy bit of tittle-tattle is the best way to bond for these men. But it is a common knowledge that such a bonding can be a double-edged sword because most often it tends to create only a phony or superficial relationship rather than what we can we term as genuine bonding.
But Dr Meller says that for cave man gossip was a way of survival and even now gossip serves the same purpose. But for those who are accused of gossiping too much or for those who feel guilty about gossiping, Dr Meller has some good news. He says gossiping is in the genes and every human being has the urge to peep into the lives of others or know about the lives of celebrities, their affairs, scandals, break ups, marriages, divorces, who they go steady with et al. That is why we see many people find it quite relaxing going through celeb magazines and websites, knowing how the rich and the famous build and ruin their lives.
While there are many supporters of gossip as a need or a necessity it is always better to indulge in harmless gossiping rather than opt for barbs and insinuations. Now that gossip mongers can take recourse under the pretext that ‘it is all in the genes’ (then why women were branded as gossip mongers remains a mystery) there is another reason to ‘celebrate’ gossiping giving it the due respect it deserves. According to researchers gossiping has great therapeutic value, as it leads to natural endorphin rush and an avenue to vent frustration, thus a great stress-buster.
In the last few years the health bug has bitten everyone in a big way and we can only expect more and more people to indulge in more and more gossiping to their heart’s content. But now on, men can say they tittle-tattle as it is a fad to be health conscious. After all, who does not want to be healthy, to live longer or lead a stress-free life?
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