The Skinny on Gossip

Gossip. It is a cousin of the green-eyed monster and should be included in the seven deadly sins. Though it is sometimes used casually and not always aimed to harm, it can be perceived as being malicious.

Although being a gatekeeper to a big secret can seem like fun, the temptation to spill the beans is unavoidable. Gossip, however, can be so alluring because it creates a common bond between people.

A 2005 New York Times poll of undergraduate students revealed that 85 percent of those who have gossiped made friends or acquaintances the subjects of their gossip. The poll further stated that 55 percent of the gossipers passed it on and said it reflected badly on the person who was gossiped about.
Students at St. John’s could not agree more.

“I guess that it’s natural that people gossip,” said junior Alvin Chan.

Pharmacy student Gule Rahi pointed out that gossip seemed “inevitable, especially among girls.”

It may be a stretch to say that the general population loves gossip (especially rumors that circulate around Hollywood), but the idea of gossip or “big news” seems to be irresistible. The recent buzz about celebrity hijinks, in addition to professional sports players gracing the cover of major newspapers for their personal lives, rather than their athletic ability, indicates that the daily feed of gossip sells.

“People sometimes just talk about a situation without any knowledge of what actually happened and then just add their own details to the story,” said junior Nicole Tramonti.

Graduate student Allison Lynch explains that gossip is an effortless way to taint an individual’s reputation.

“People love to gossip,” Lynch said. “Everyone does it whether they want to admit it or not. While gossip in any form is horrible, it is much worse to spread false rumors. Word travels fast. It is very easy for one false statement to damage a person’s reputation for life.”

Gossip, unfortunately, does not always start among a circle of friends. Any general place where individuals gather and communicate, including the workplace or a student organization, can be havens for gossip.

Gossiping, however, can be circumvented much easier than one may imagine.

One way to avoid gossiping is by thinking of the consequences. While it seems clich√©, sometimes looking ahead at what could happen may change a person’s mind about making a comment in the first place. By gossiping, you can violate a person’s trust and be viewed as deceitful. Furthermore, those who are aware of the situation may look at the gossiper as untrustworthy or immature.

If one feels the urge to gossip, there are ways to keep the secrets to yourself, such as keeping a private journal. That way, if you feel the need to rant and rave, it can be done in a civilized manner.

People spread gossip as a means of having fun and being social. But being labeled a monger? That’s not so much fun. As it was once put by The Juliana Theory, “watch your mouth, hold your tongue… some things are better left unsaid.”