Psst.... If a sentence starts with this word, we are all ears. There is something so deliciously sinful about gossip that we are all gossips sometime during our life and many times during a single day.
On the phone, in person, in cafes, in boardrooms, in magazines, on chat shows, during funerals and weddings—gossip provides the buzz. These semi-happenings, what may have happened, what we almost saw or heard and who we talk about non-stop, are all mainstays of entire conversations. Gossip is the showstopper in the catwalk of life.
Is Kate Middleton dressing down to show up the new Miss Markle—and what’s with the latter’s deliberately messy hairdo? Are Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor actually in love or is it a publicity stunt? Will Junot Diaz be sacked from Boston Review in the wake of the #MeToo thing? Are Donald Trump and Melania still doing it? We want to know everything. Everything! A juicy tidbit is a matter of life and death.
The more vicious the gossip, the more visceral the joy. It binds the talker and listener emotionally and blackmails each other into a private twosome, imbuing them with a sense of self-purity. Also, they can hardly out each other without exposing their own complicit guilt. But this gives them the ammunition to go and make new friends with this secret knowledge.
Gossip is power. This is the real money in the bank. It is low-cal and non-fattening. And nothing is too sacred. Who is sleeping with who is the subterranean chessboard, gives us the real picture, not to mention pulls celebs and holier than thou biggies down to earth, down to our level. Oh, we say, oh. This is psychological knowhow, giving us all a taste of being puppeteers. Briefly, for that millisecond, we pull the strings.
It starts in infancy when we tell our moms what our siblings confided in us. That virtuous glow from being comparatively sin-free and perfect can become addictive, especially if mommy then marches up to said sibling and deposits a tight slap. Ah, what bliss! Tattle-tales relish the heady rush. Of course, they have no rest. They must now comfort crying brother or sister and cunningly extract, with appropriate empathy, the next damaging confession.
Rumours and whispers, white lies and black tongues, hot off the press statements, anything that makes the listener feel he heard it first, these are all affirmations of specialness. Somebody thought you worthy of the ‘truth’ even before the truth. A pre-truth atmosphere is created via smoke and mirrors, and there it is, what we’ve been waiting for, the most atrocious words ever. Our ears ring, our stomachs are full and our mouths have to be washed with soap. As a character in the famous TV series Gossip Girl says: ‘The only thing more shocking than the truth are the lies people make to cover them up.’
Four horses cannot overtake the tongue, so goes an old proverb. In the time we live, this can be modified to no tongue can overtake the social media. Once the trolls get hold of a particular gossip, it becomes a prophecy. And if the gossipee becomes the gossip, that’s the price we pay. We know full well that our deep interest in acquaintances is morbidly returned.
Unshared gossip burns up throats. ‘I will not tell this to anyone’, are famous last words. Curiosity may have killed the cat but the grin on the dead feline must have been so photogenic.