Why Gossip Can Be Good For You and Your Friendships

I'd be lying if I said I didn't loooove gossip. Every kind -- even mundane, lame gossip can brighten a day and is better than talking about my bunion that is killing me right now. We all know -- or think -- we shouldn't do it. It can possibly be hurtful to the subject of said gossip (the gossipee?) and rude of the gossipors. Our moms told us not to do it (well, not mine--she was too busy dishing on her friends), our teachers reprimanded us when we were caught, and yet, we didn't stop. Why? Because it is the natural inclination of everyone (and yes, men too so don't even try to deny it) -- it's human nature, and I guarantee Neanderthals were doing it before they found fire. They may have worked at discovering fire just so they could sit around the campfire and gossip. I think our juicy stories about others are one of the small luxuries in life that cross geographical, cultural and socio-economic boundaries. Everyone can do it, and almost everyone does. It connects us just as much as it can fragment but provides that little common link with others that we all crave. Now if you are just being nasty and the gossipee hears about said discussions, then you've hurt someone and the whispers are no longer something that binds, but instead something that brings shame on all involved. And Lord knows, we all have enough shame shoved deep down -- we don't need anymore. (P.S. if said gossipee does find out, then you have a mole in your gossip circle, and it's time to clean house.)

Now, before you come hunt me down and burn me at the stake as a heretic (or just a bad person), there are some parameters of healthy gossip. Here are a couple rules of engagement:

1) Only talk with friends that you trust. I'm going to get some serious flack for this, but I think dishing with a true, worthy, admirable friend isn't an act of poor taste; it's a wonderful part of friendship. And a fun one. If you have a friend that you adore and you know always will have you back -- then you can count on her being gossip-worthy, and such interactions can take you away -- just for a bit -- from the daily routine of life. I think that's a good thing. A good litmus test to ascertain whether you have a super fab friend for gabbing is that you know for a fact that she would never say anything about you that she wouldn't tease you about to your face. This is an important factor when deciding on a worthy participant. Remember, if she is untrustworthy, then the old saying is true-if she's gossiping with you, then she is also gossiping about you. Steer clear of those bitches -- they will take everyone down.

2) Don't Be Mean or Vindictive. This may seem like a contradiction, but gossip can be pure. I'm not saying all whispers are going to be sweet -- if they were that would take some the fun out of it, but they don't need to be hateful. Attacking someone with wrath is really revealing your shortcomings rather than theirs. It's just letting out your feelings of insecurity, rage, shame and guilt at the expense of others. You can talk about things people, did, said, wore, or posted without being ugly. There really is a difference.

3) Be Prepared to be the Gossipee. If you do some really idiotic thing, are a total self-absorbed narcissist (like most of my family and many a friend who have crossed my path) or shack up with anything that has a pulse, then you just might warrant being gossiped about. Sorry -- it's true. I'm sure I've been the deserved recipient of some tidbits -- so I can say this. We all act like fools at some time or another (or just yesterday), so be prepared to be the subject of some other people's fun. It's only fair, and it pays your karmic debt for dishing on someone else. There is plenty of gossip for everyone, so don't be stingy! Oh, and talking about Kim Kardashian is NOT gossiping -- she has qualified as a lifetime deserved recipient. Congrats KK.

So if you made "to gossip less" your New Year's resolution -- maybe rethink it. There is good in gossip -- it's a bond, and we all want and need that sense of belonging that it can bring. Let's just admit it and stop pretending we don't do it. It carries a stigma, but it's not like it's herpes, so why be afraid of it? It brings a commonality to all of us that this world desperately needs. Without it, we become either sociopaths or the Unabomber. Or both.

Be discreet, don't be malicious, do it with (and about) the right people and you can keep your meaningful friendships stronger. Happy New Year to all and here's to lots of good, juicy and beautiful gossip among friends.

To read more posts that hopefully will make you laugh and maybe even inspire -- visit me on my blog at F-thejoneses.com