Some recent research on gossip has shed some interesting insights into its role, when it happens, and its nature.
“Gossip is a complex form of communication that is often misunderstood…It can be a means of social and substantive connection beyond its typical negative connotation,”
The long and short of it is
- Gossip happens when groups are excluded
- It is a means to catch up on information
- Can be seen as a means to learn through the experiences of others
- When everyone is involved general chit chat happens not gossip
- The general nature is neutral (maybe surprising — most people consider it negative)
- It serves a bonding and social function as much as anything else
Therefore gossip can be seen to be an important social tool — in the current lockdown and work at home context, and future hybrid office scenarios, this is likely to be massively affected. Gossip may be one of those barely noticed functions that enables people to bond that creates strong social bonds that may be missing in virtual contexts and over time will lead to decreased social connections.
Time for a good gossip anyone?
…the role of gossip are consistent with creating a “shared reality” in which friends and colleagues often find common bonds, establish alliances, exchange personal information, and discuss the behavior of others to establish a consensus of socially acceptable behavior.