Why are we so obsessed with talking about other people?

I sat down last night to write a post, and realized it was going to require more research and effort than I had the energy for at that moment.  Plus, some of the projects I’m working are going to require more work than expected. So, to fill the void until I can get my act together, I figured “Why not do a SoulPancake page?”. It’s been awhile since I’ve dived into this book, and I’m kinda in the mood for a little, light-hearted philosophical talk.

With that being said, Why are we so obsessed with talking about other people?

I think this kind of boils down to the idea that talking about other people makes us feel better about ourselves.  Plus, it gives people something to talk about.

For example, just take a look at all the tabloids in your local shopping complex, tabloidssupermarket, or grocery store.  Most, if not all, of the all headlines are false, from pregnancies to rehab stints to divorces, the list goes on and on.  I work at a grocery store, and some of the biggest headlines this week are: “Brad Pitt is moving in with Kate Hudson, and taking his kids”, “Kate Middleton is severely anorexic, and was just crowned Queen”, “Kim Kardashian is divorcing Kane West”, “Miley Cyrus and Kylie Jenner are both secretly married”, and oh the list goes on and on. It’s quite laughable, really, how blatantly false the tabloids are.  But yet, I’m always amazed at how many people buy them, talking about the headlines as if it were world-shaking, definitive truth.

Were we all taught not to gossip about other people, while growing up? What about celebrities makes it okay? Why are we so obsessed with talking about other people, even if we know what we are seeing/reading/talking about is false?

I think this constant obsession is even more vicious in middle school and high school.  Why are teenagers so focused on other people? When I was in high school, rumors spread like a freaking wild fire. I have many examples of the nastiness of gossip.  And remember, rumors spread through gossip.  First, one of my friends at church started doing cyber school her sophomore year of high school, for many reasons.  But when she stopped going to the physical school, rumors about her started to spread. There were rumors that she died, she was married, or that she had multiple kids.  Second, my band director unexpectedly accepted a job at another school, a week before band camp started my senior year of high school. Those of us in the band of course knew the situation, but the rest of the school did not.  There were many times where I heard a non-band student talking about the situation, and spreading completely false statements.  In both of these situations, none of the rumors were true, and the people gossiping looked like idiots. Why do people insist on gossiping about things they don’t know?

I think we also need to make the distinction between gossiping and ranting.  I understand gossiping to be “the intention of spreading false information with the intent to hurt someone else, and/or damage their reputation”, and I understand ranting to be “verbally processing a rough or irritating situation, with the purpose of getting things off of one’s chest”.  Of course, there is a very fine line between these two, and ranting can easily blend into gossiping. When I rant, other people may be involved, but I never talk about them with the intention of spreading what I’m saying.  I never, however, intentionally gossip, and even then, the words feel heavy in my mouth.

But all of this doesn’t really answer the question, does it? Do we like talking about other people because we’re curious about their lives, and believe gossiping is a way to remedy that? Or, because we wish them harm and ill will, but don’t physically want to take any action against them? Or do we like talking about other people because we find their decisions, choices, and maybe even existence, to be annoying and/or offensive? Do we like talking about other people because it does indeed make us feel better about ourselves? Or, because we see ourselves as superior, and them as inferior?

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My thoughts feel pretty scattered on this prompt, like a continuous train of thought, with no complete answer.  What do you think? Why are we so obsessed with talking about other people?

Ciao for now,

Julia

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