Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Girl Talk

March 12, 2009: Life's Big Questions: Why Do We Spend So Much Time Talking About Other People?

My first impulse is to start this off with a rousing- Because it is So. Much. Fun. It's tempting to do. Because, hey, who doesn't love a little gossip in their lives? A little drama added to the day? I mean, there is a crazy popular TV show that I have been known to watch which isspecifically about an online gossip column about High School/ University students.

I have been known to pick up gossip mags when I go through the cashier at my local Big Box, and I am more than happy to check celebrity websites daily. You will find no shame here. But, being a little more serious, I think what it comes down to is that talking about others is easier than talking about ourselves.

As a sidenote, I want to distinguish between two key forms of talking about other people- concern v. gossip. I'm not a gossip fan, at least when it comes to my friends. Celebrities are fair game- it's part of what they're getting paid a ridiculous amount of money for. But when it comes to my friends, if I'm talking about them, or about things they've disclosed to me, there is only one situation that's okay in my books- concern.

(To those who have confided in me: For the most part those are things I'll talk to my mum about. She doesn't know the vast majority of my friends, so even if I tell her things, she'll definitely forget the names, and will most likely forget the details, but she can still be a solid outlet for me to reflect and sort out my thoughts.)

As for gossip, though, when it happens, I honestly I think it's because it's a great way of deflecting attention from ourselves. Rather than having open dialogue about our own issues and problems, we're able to focus on other people, and successfully avoid looking within ourselves and admitting to our flaws, to our quirks, to those choices we've made that we're not so proud of.

Of course I end up talking to friends about other friends- if we're concerned about some life choices (I'm looking at you, R), it's bound to come up in conversation. I'm a worrier, so at times I need to reflect with others to make sure that my worries aren't entirely unfounded, or to put them in perspective. But there is a distinct difference (I hope) between that kind of talking about other people and talking about them in a cruel and judgemental fashion.

So, why do we gossip? Because it's easier. Why do I talk? Because I am a very concerned individual who often likes to work on helping solve other people's problems before dealing with my own.

Which, I guess, is still easier.

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