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I came across an interesting
phrase in a novel by Terry Pratchett.
can have gone around the world before TRUTH has got its boots on!"
What is it about gossip
and tittle/tattle that can generate such a blazing trail? It's easy
to understand the urgency around "run for your life, the enemy's
coming!" or "head for the hills, there's a tidal wave on my
tail!" but what is it about "our Sheila says that Mrs Snoop
saw Mrs Jones at the fair with Mr Penny" that sets the gossip mill
grinding at a frenzied pace?
On a scale of 1 to 10
of important information for the survival of the species, it probably
rates about minus 1. Its importance for the personal survival of Mrs
Jones or Mr Penny may take it's rating up to a more positive number
(depending upon what they were doing and whether Mr Jones or Mrs Penny
might approve), but generally the interest level in this piece of information
is often far greater than its apparent worth.
So maybe we need to scratch
a bit below the surface to see what is really going on, because when
so much energy goes into something so apparently trivial then there
must be somebody gaining something out of it!
To understand this a bit
more we need to look at the "feel good factor". If we are
NOT feeling good, then we often do something we think will help us to
feel better - kick the dog, eat chocolate, have sex, buy things, shout
at spouse/children/colleagues/delivery person... Sometimes even if we
ARE feeling good (and we're a bit greedy) we will do some of those things
as well - hey, can you get TOO much feel good?
What is underlying most
of these activities is a power shift, by artificially lifting oneself
up as a result of putting someone else down or by acquiring the energy
from giving oneself gifts.
So, if we look at what
is happening in a group of people chatting, the one with more information
will have more to talk about and will be the centre of attention for
that time - all eyes and ears on them as they tell their tale. The "feel
good factor" is at work - it may be only a small bit of energy
going their way, but the really practiced ones will be the ones who
know how to hog the limelight. Such as recounting word for word the
entire conversation they had with someone else, retelling the same story
(THEY never get bored with it), not pausing for breath (who needs oxygen
when I'm getting all this limelight) or even better still, learning
how to inhale and talk at the same time! And of course, while we're
at it we can throw in some judgmental comments on people's actions and
gain a whole lot more energy from the exalted position of self-righteousness
Now, that we've found
a way to puff up our own energy and "feel good", there is
a need to make sure that the supply continues, so we need to collect
information too - anything will do, no matter how trivial or small,
it doesn't even need to be true! Just keep that mill grinding!
Of course the real trick
in life is to "feel good" from within.
And, wouldn't it be a
wonderful place if the "feel good factor" was individually
resolved without "kicking the dog"!
(J Hargreaves - 30th January 2003)
Gossips, Rumour and Tittle/Tattle - article from Hark.net.au