You can’t wait to tell your bestie about the new employee who has joined your team; The latest secret about your dream hero is sulking you though its been discussed repeatedly; the guys don’t get to talk enough on their favorite cricketing Gods after yesterday’s victorious match! The handsome boyfriend of your worst enemy is making headlines everywhere in the college and people haven’t stopped praising about him to you.
All of the above are some or the other form of what we all know it to be-GOSSIP! There is enough of it happening around and each of us are almost ready anytime to hear a juicy piece of information. This might be a word that’s often linked to the female gender and mocked upon by all but not so much as the 16th and 17th century British. During those periods, those gossiping too much were made to wear an iron cage over their heads consisting of iron spikes that went into the mount and prevented the individual from speaking (this was mostly subjected to women who were the ones talking too much during those days). We don’t have the opportunity to do something like that now despite the bitter truth that people who love gossiping still are very much prevalent in the society with the only difference that men too are actively involved in in very much more than what was their contribution centuries back! Sign language enabled conversation among people back then with actual language forms appearing way later enabling people to exchange their ideas and promoted effective interaction between humans. Evolutionary scientists strongly support the fact that gossip among our ancestors helped in shaping the community in a better way shedding light on many things that could have remained in the dark otherwise. The most famous theory on gossip came from Robert Dunbar who proposed that gossip existed as a grooming tool for social groups that were growing in size. Our hunter gatherers needed to cooperate with one another to successfully catch their meal for the day and for this, they needed to share information such as who goes to catch the prey, who goes to fetch edible fruits and who looks after the caught prey. In short, they needed to gossip about each other to communicate their thoughts clearly and get the work done.
The Process of Making Humans More Human!
Gossip helps us to make people human, exchange important information with each other and promote love, bond and affection with families and friends. Being in close relationship with our fellow humans is essential for our survival and this behavior could be seen even in apes who do this mainly by grooming-touching, stroking the fur, giving out grunts or cleaning another’s fur. Human’s ability to speak makes our collaboration with other humans special and versatile. While it is unimaginable for two people to survive on a relationship that’s devoid of any speech, it’s amazing to see apes and gorillas build cohesion without uttering a single word.
When people talk shitty stuff about celebrities, fellow neighbors and others, gossip seems to be the worst discovery that tries to humiliate people, make them cry until their eyes go dry, spread rumors or simply exchange information. At the same time it might turn out that gossiping which includes sharing information about your friend’s marriage, talking about your son’s spell bee competition next week or telling your mom about your cousin’s new entrepreneur venture does have positive influence on the people of the society too!
A new study finds that people gossip for an average of 52 minutes a day talking to someone about someone else who is not present. The study further elates us with the news that most of the gossip is on neutral grounds directed away from filthy talks and dirty chats purely existing as nonjudgemental chitchat (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/05/13/722141820/we-gossip-about-52-minutes-a-day-that-may-not-be-as-toxic-as-it-sounds). This was the same study that also shed light that men gossip about the same amount as women and extroverts gossip more than introverts. Gossip generally helps people update each other on what’s going about in the society, in each other’s life, builds upon cooperation and is a means of survival. We all rely upon our loved ones for love and affection, interaction and a meaning in life. Gossip is a way of knowing the hurdles that’s happening in another person’s life, it tells you if there are any problems with your job and the company is going for a mass layoff (which means you can start looking for options elsewhere) and gossip is what also helps us equip ourselves with facts and thoughts about the person gossiping and the person being gossiped about too! Sometimes, gossiping can have negative consequences on a person too and some of these consequences can be turned into positives when the person involved corrects his/her criticisms and starts leading a better life.
Gossip can be psychologically relieving-two studies came up with the fact that people cooperated in a better way when they knew that their behavior might be gossiped about and they start acting in the best interest of all the individuals present around them rather than tending to their own selfish needs alone. Positive gossip helped people understand how they could do better for themselves while negative gossip could make them feel better but also raise the fears that they could be the next subject for gossip in the group. This fear of being gossiped exists in each of us still we don’t refrain from gossiping as its etched in our cells more because it’s useful for us rather than simply being an element of fun and social interaction.
One study shows that the tendency to gossip starts as early as the age of 5 in children. Gossip is like stuffing yourself with high-energy, empty-calorie foods. It invokes the pleasure centers of the brain, especially when the gossip is more negative than positive as it contributes towards building the person’s self-esteem. It helps people stay away from isolation existing as a means of connection among individuals. Gossip has got to do more than simply speaking about who’s living with whom in the social world, what’s the bank balance of your relative or how to cheat on your best friend. It is etched in our genes and maybe even language evolved in humans with the primary function of enabling gossiping among fellow individuals that encouraged them to connect socially, commit to people, reduce stress and anxiety and even encourage happiness.
So, next time you go all hush-hush over someone or something don’t feel embarrassed but also ensure to never cross your boundaries which could otherwise ruin the other person’s life and career as well.
Have You Heard? Gossip is Actually Good and Useful: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/11/have-you-heard-gossip-is-actually-good-and-useful/382430/
Gossiping is What Makes us human: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11657765/Gossiping-is-what-makes-us-human-says-Oxford-professor.html
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