When not obsessing over our own relationships, people have a tendency to observe and judge others’ love lives. Perhaps it’s a boredom thing; why else would we care so much if Kylie’s rekindled her relationship with Tyga
, that Tom Hiddleston
wore an “I Love T.S” t-shirt, or who Becky with the Good Hair
There’s no denying that we, collectively, love trash talking celebrities and common folk alike - especially when that trash talk involves their love lives.
Some couples experience horrendous backlas
h simply for becoming an item while others are on the receiving end of a fandom so strong, their breakup sends ripples of misery
across the socialsphere.
Psychologist Charlotte DeBacker, PhD, now Assistant Professor at the University of Antwerp’s Dept. of Communication Sciences, compared gossip to chocolate in her 2006 book “Gossip: Why Gossip Can Be Healthy.”
She theorizes that humans are drawn to sweet, fatty foods like chocolate because high calorie foods were once imperative in lean times. Because of this, we crave sweet foods even if we don’t require calories for survival. Similarly, the pleasure we derive from engaging in gossip creates a tendency to “dish dirt”- even if the subject matter has no direct relevancy to our own lives, as with celebrity gossip.
Gossip within one’s own social circles can be good or bad, according to Arthur Dobrin. Writing for Psychology Today, Dobrin states that “Good friends talk about other people. It is in that discussion that they compare their own standards, their own values and their own behaviour to that of others. That is a good thing, when done properly."
However, there’s also an ugly side to gossip which Dobrin addresses. “As with all judgements about others, gossip can go wrong and turn into self righteousness and cause unwarranted harm,” he writes. “Sometimes the talk is malicious and comes from something less than a clean conscience. The problem arises when gossip smears another’s reputation unfairly.”
Celebrities and the average person will agree that social media has made it easier for gossip to spread. Some use it to their advantage for attention or publicity purposes (let’s not pretend this isn’t a thing) while others prefer to keep prying eyes away from their personal lives, habitually using social media as a means to keep up-to-date with surface friends (or “beer friends”, as known by some).
But with articles like "10 Things You Should Never Post About Your Relationship On Facebook" (written by The Huffington Post’s “Divorce Editor” - yes, that’s a job) and “Happy Couples Constantly Posting On Facebook Aren’t That Happy” rearing their heads on our feeds, it’s hard to tell who gets more criticism: couples who keep their relationship under wraps or couples who happily divulge every nitty gritty detail.
The moral of the story? You can’t please everyone. If you haven’t already stopped caring what people think about you; who you date, who your friends are, what you eat, what you wear, where you work, and where you live, you should probably stop. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
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