Celebrating gossip

A different kind of gossip column

Jayanti Jha

“What’s the hot goss?”

My older sister asks me this question once every few weeks, and to it, I respond with how my day has gone — regardless if my news would qualify as “hot goss” or not. Because she lives thousands of miles away from me, this one question opens up a can of worms of everything I’ve needed to catch her up. So like every good younger sibling, I’ve stolen the question and incorporated it into my daily vocabulary, asking my friends this every so often to catch up.

The best answer to this question, to me, begins with “Omg OK …” The statement is followed by something on their mind, a glimpse into their thoughts prompted by my simple question. That’s where the “goss” part of “hot goss” comes into play, but unfortunately, the word “gossip” inherently has a negative connotation. Gossip brings an image of mean girls bullying a girl who doesn’t have enough money to buy the newest leggings everyone’s wearing or what moms chat about with their friends at brunch.

I’d postulate, however, that most gossip isn’t malicious — in fact, it’s more about presenting facts and information and then reacting to it. Although it does sound like I’m justifying this seemingly immoral act of gossiping, the numbers do not lie — UCLA researchers confirm that 85% of gossip is “non-judgmental, harmless, small talk.” The answers to my “hot goss” questions don’t bring out much top-secret information — rather, it pulls out what they were waiting to tell a friend, both about themselves and others in their lives.

And in this harmless small talk comes connection — through talking about each other’s lives, and other people’s lives, and Kanye West’s Instagram posts, me and my fellow gossipee can feel a bit more in the loop about each other’s lives.

As for the 15%, or the bad side of gossipping, I personally don’t partake too much — the people around me typically make smart decisions so I don’t need to talk behind their backs. I’m all for confrontation, but sometimes, telling a trusted friend about something on your mind can help you get clarity in a situation. But the conversation can move in two directions — one, the friend adds fuel to your fire and pulls up their own opinions, or, they tattletale, and it gets back to the person in question.

Both options are, in a way, beneficial. Connecting over a negative view on someone else, as bad as it sounds, can help create bonds. And although you probably have a not so reliable friend, snitching on you can help resolve the issues in your relationship, or help the person in question fix their behavior — rather than letting it bottle up inside.

But as a Monta Vista student, I can’t ignore the major sphere of gossip that we have here — not who’s dating who, or who got caught stealing in the lunch line. We have academic gossip, where we predict our teacher’s next moves, figure out the curve and who ruined it, and analyze how hard the upcoming test is going to be. And although this can quickly become toxic as we learn about other people’s grades and accomplishments and invoke competition, gossipping about teachers and tests have become integral to the Monta Vista experience, and the foundation of many of our friendships that began in the classroom.

Let’s embrace all types of gossip. I’m not promoting the malicious kind, but it’s important to realize that our lives involve more than just ourselves. We have all types of people in our lives, from teachers to parents to friends to classmates. It’s inevitable that we discuss other people in the conversation, because that gives us the complete picture of each other’s lives.

So next time you miss your friend, ask them for the sauciest “hot goss.” And hopefully, you’ll get more than just how much they hate their new neighbor, but rather some hot goss on who they are as a person.