A good ol’ gossip session with friends—an activity people can certainly enjoy, even when they feel a twinge of guilt for talking about others behind their backs. Luckily, people can feel a bit better about this guilty pleasure with the knowledge that our brains are pretty much set up for gossiping, and they evolved this way in order to save our species, according to New York Magazine.
In other words, by gossiping, one could argue that you’re helping out yourself and others. How philanthropic!
Way back in the day, when we were caveman-esque primates with the sole purpose to survive in the wild, gossip facilitated finding food and knowing who to trust. By talking and thinking about gossip-y questions like “Who is a bad person that lives here?” and “Where did that guy say we can find food?” we established friendships, discerned enemies and expanded our species, New York Magazine reports. Gossiping got us all the way up to 2017 by making us aware of happenings around us and by circulating knowledge. So even though gossiping is usually looked down upon, it definitely has some benefits.
Have you noticed yourself gossiping more about someone who’s, well, perceived to be higher than you on the food chain? That’s also apparently helped us out through the years, according to NPR. When someone is deemed superior and has the power to make decisions that could affect a lot of people, gossip gives each person the capacity to ask a friend, “Hmmm…did you hear what so-and-so is going to do? What do you think about it? What should be done instead?” It can act as a check on the powerful.
There you have it—Gossiping isn’t just a a character flaw. So hey, maybe it’s not so bad to get out there and gossip. If something doesn’t seem quite right about someone, maybe you can gossip to spread the word, take a stand and make a positive difference.
For more information on why gossiping isn’t so bad, check out this TED Talk!