Why Are Rumors Helpful?
You & Society

Why Are Rumors Helpful?

Since childhood, we’ve been taught that spreading rumors is bad practice. That’s why we often condemn people circulating rumors. Yet, rumors make up a significant part of the surrounding world and may be rather useful.

Of course, in the first place, rumors help dishonest people to reach their goals. Confidential information may become a dangerous weapon in their arms: they will definitely find a way to make it serve their purposes. However, all people know how difficult it is not to spread fascinating news. That’s why we all have to admit that we like spreading rumors.

A desire to circulate rumors may really be considered a negative character trait, but it is also an indicator of highly developed social skills. Curiously enough, people who can’t spread rumors about others often experience difficulties in communication and can’t keep a friendly relationship.    

Origin

Psychologists believe that our interest in others’ life is a by-product of evolution.

Our ancestors lived in relatively small groups whose members had to know each other well and actively cooperate to survive in the harsh surrounding and to fight enemies back. At the same time, members of the same tribe were the main rivals in the fight for resources; that’s why they had to understand who was a more beneficial partner and who was unreliable and untrustworthy. In this fight, a person with a higher social intellect would win, the one who could make forecasts, analyze, and spread rumors if necessary. Such “gifted individuals” became the most powerful and successful, and we inherited their genes through generations.  

Gossip or not to gossip  

Becoming an outcast

A person who doesn’t want to gossip becomes an outcast.

Strangely, people who are good at gossiping are the soul of any company. The point is that mutual secrets and exchanging the hottest news bring people closer so that there arises mutual trust in their circle. Besides, revealing a secret to somebody you show a person that you sure they won’t use this information against you.

A skillful gossiper will easily find mutual language with representatives of any social group. Due to gossipers’ efforts, employees will be subtly informed about the things happening to the staff. Researches show that spreading harmless rumors within a working group helps to raise the collective spirit.

Learn more about others

Rumors may be very useful for a newcomer who’s just joined a social group.

Gossiping is a way to adapt to unknown surroundings. Taking part in this process, you become a part of a team and get valuable information about a new place. If a newcomer attentively listens to the circulating news and others’ opinions about them, they can easily understand what is acceptable and prohibited within this group.  Rumors help us to find out implicit rules of behavior in a definite social group. If one of the staff members decides not to spread rumors, in the long run, they become outcasts. A group doesn’t accept them, colleagues don’t trust them so that they become socially isolated.

So, it turns out that the ability to gossip is a skill we need to master.

The fear of gossiping stimulates self-control

Realizing that others may also be gossiping about us behind our backs may help us control our behavior. Since we don’t want to become an object of jokes and rumors within our friends’ or colleagues’ circle, we have to be cautious while expressing our thoughts and remarks.

Rumors about celebrities are the most useful.  We should distinguish between gossips connected with a definite person’s reputation and gossips describing some unusual situations. In the first case, rumors become interesting if they concern a person we personally know. Impersonal stories attract our attention if we find there some strategies we can apply to our personal life. Interest in celebrities’ life may be explained by our thirst for new life strategies. Be it good or bad, we expect celebrities to show us exemplary role models, just as our ancestors expected this from their tribes’ heads.

Gossips are the core of mass media

In modern society, taking into consideration its urbanization and emphasis on virtual communication, celebrities may become your only friends. Due to rumors spread by newspapers, magazines, and television, your friends start resembling famous people. In some sense, our brain is deceived by the feeling of a supposed close acquaintance with celebrities. That’s why we want to know more about “famous people” since the one we know well and see quite often seems a socially important person.

As a matter of fact, this imaginary acquaintance with celebrities plays a significant social role. Let’s imagine the following situation. A person has to engage in a positive relationship with new neighbors or colleagues. In this case, it’s very convenient to have “mutual” acquaintances such as celebrities. It makes informal interaction easier, helps to start communicating, and makes a new atmosphere cozier. Thus, a desire to follow actors, politicians, or sportsmen may make a person more flexible while interacting with strangers and engaging in a new relationship.

To conclude, it seems that we should change our attitude to rumors in everyday life. It isn’t necessary to avoid private discussions or be ashamed of your taking part in gossiping. Undoubtedly, you have to clearly understand what and when to say, and when it’s better to keep silent. Yet, an ability to gossip lets us become popular group members who can easily exchange important information with others.

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