Is there such a thing as “good” gossip?” Is gossip “good for your health?” Is it up to the target of gossip to “deal with it?” Can gossip cause harm?
Gossip creates so many questions because we have to admit certain truths. Some of these truths are surprising.
Victoria Colliver’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle suggests that gossip is good for people.
This position is backed up by an article in an issue of “Arthritis Today”1 that lists the reasons gossip is good for your health.
Gossip creates friendships and releases an endorphin rush equal to an hour run. Further the more that a person gossips the more information they acquire about many topics some which may assist them in their life.
What is gossip? According to Eric Foster, Study Director at Temple University’s Institute for Survey Research, gossip is “the congenial exchange of personal information (positive or negative) in an evaluative way about absent third parties.”
Considering the glow my wife sometimes has after a gossip session with her sisters, I have to believe that gossip does help a person “feel better.” And I cannot plead innocent on the topic. I certainly have done my share of gossiping.
So let’s agree that gossiping is good for our health. In fact I’m sure couples often share evenings together choosing gossip as their entertainment for the evening.
However, we have to ask ourselves the question, “Is gossip the best way to improve our health?”
If we go to “Kid’s Health” we get a much different perspective on gossip. If you are the target of talk behind your back, even if it is positive, it can be embarrassing and worse, hurtful.
I have to add this point: In gossiping sessions I’ve been involved in first of all rarely is the gossip positive and finally if it starts out positive it often deteriorates to a “negative spin.”
So, what’s my point?
Well, I think the idea of gossip for health is not healthy for people.
I live on a busy, main street. Because of that, people that ride motorcycles often speed up and down on it. They put themselves in very dangerous situations at times. I’m sure that they get an “endorphin rush” as well. What they are doing isn’t a lot different than gossipers.
Gossipers put peoples’ feelings at risk for their own benefit and rogue motorcycle riders put other people on the road at risk.
It seems simple to me. If you want to get an hour’s worth of “exercise endorphins”, then exercise for an hour. You can bond with others in this way as well and other people remain safe in every way.
1 “Arthritis Today”, November/December 2007, “The Good Side of Gossip”