The significance of ‘gossips’

When I was younger, I would scorn at gossips. I always consider gossip to be a waste of mental capacity. I wouldn’t want people to be nosy about my business so why would I want to be nosy about theirs? I would usually walk away from such social interactions. I think this was why people consider myself to be ignorant. Well, that’s not the whole truth. I was ignorant of gossips, but I wasn’t ignorant of world issues. As the years go by, through exposing myself to a wide array of reading materials, I have come to consider the function of gossip and its significance.

Gossip,  according to Wood and Roberts (2007), is a lower form of knowledge. It is gained through social interaction that is conventionally intended to express what happened to other members of a society in which the story that is expressed can either sometimes be fabricated or tells a tale of truth.

The book that had initially made me take a look at gossip in another perspective was ‘The Anthropology of Women’. Prior to reading the book, I would only look at gossip in a negative light. After reading the book, my perception regarding gossip has taken a turn. I realized that gossip has a social function in society which is to be aware of what that particular society considers as morally right or wrong as well as what’s socially acceptable. Gossip will spread from mouth to ear and ear to mouth. Although usually there will be different versions of that particular gossip and committing logical fallacies will often ensue when engaging in them, the essence of it will still be about what the society considers to be appealing or non-appealing. In the end, people will be made aware of what they should and shouldn’t do based on those particular gossips that have spread. That’s if the individual members of society would care enough to conform to them because as we should all know, there are certain individuals in a society who are non-conformist and they don’t intend to comply to what’s morally right and socially acceptable. 

Another perspective that I would prefer to look at the function of gossip is that my approach to it would be to analyze them in multiple aspects that can serve as examples in various academic disciplines. An issue that serves as a gossip could be analyzed in sociological aspects. We could also analyze the ideology that underlies the gossip. Other than that, it can also be analyzed in the aspect of psychology and philosophy. All of these aspects as well as among others that were not mentioned, could make up the particular gossip as a whole. I am aware that not everyone could analyze gossips in this approach perhaps due to the lack of familiarity with the concept of sociology, philosophy, ideology, etc. and lacking the interest to do so but I take this as a personal approach to consider gossip in a positive light and simultaneously providing myself with a mentally stimulating activity. It’s also a way to apply concepts that I’ve learned into real life situations followed by synthesizing them to create a new understanding.

Although I have changed my perceptions regarding ‘gossip’, I don’t engage in gossips for social pleasure. I don’t consider it as a part of my personal social ritual with close companions either. However, to disregard gossips completely would be naive and an attempt to become out of touch with reality. In another perspective, to superficially engage in gossips would imply an uncritical mind and a reductionist mindset.

Roberts,  R. C.  and Wood,  W. J. (2007) Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology,  Oxford University Press, United States. 

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