Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Don't tell anyone, but the NYTimes tells us that researchers told them that interviews with people told them that gossiping about each other is downright healthy!
People find it irresistible for good reason: Gossip not only helps clarify and
enforce the rules that keep people working well together, studies suggest, but
it circulates crucial information about the behavior of others that cannot be
published in an office manual. As often as it sullies reputations, psychologists
say, gossip offers a foothold for newcomers in a group and a safety net for
group members who feel in danger of falling out.

One such "newcomer" mentioned in the story is a 35 year-old teacher who says student gossip helped her learn what students thought of her class:
"To be honest, it made me feel better as a teacher to hear others being put
down," she said. "I was out there on my own, I had no sense of how I was doing
in class, and the gossip gave me some connection. And I felt like it gave me
status, knowing information, being on the inside."

Earth to this teacher: Life just called - it wants you to grow up. You're 35 years old! If you want to know what students think of you, have them do evaluations. I'm not saying I've never gossiped (I am a woman, after all) but our conversation about others really should be to build them up, not to tear them down.