The fairly standard definition of gossip is idle chatter or rumors about the personal or private affairs of others, ranging from important to trivial matters. The internet makes it possible to spread gossip widely in mere seconds. What used to take a long time to filter through to others can now be shared with a single click. But there are many who share or become party to such information online who have never thought twice about the fact that they could be gossiping.
The word gossip is used for both the (mis?)information shared and for the person sharing the tidbit. I read a good definition of a gossip — "A person who will never tell a lie if the truth will do more damage." I doubt that a gossip's intentions are always malicious, but much harm can and does come from the spreading of private information, even if it's true.
One of our quandaries today is the fact that many people are very forthcoming with their private information, posting it all over online. Is the sharing of information a person posts about himself or herself gossip? I even wonder at times as I listen to "the news" on TV or radio or read various print media if I actually need to know much of what's being reported. We don't live in the Information Age — we live in the WTMI (way too much information) Age! Do we simply know too much about others? And how much of what we know is factual?
There are websites, blogs, and social media groups where people delight in sharing information and misinformation about others, sometimes not being careful about the accuracy of what they're sharing and always giving a wider audience to something someone was unfortunate enough to say or post in the public or even private arena. Many disputes that used to be handled in private conference are now the fare of internet flame wars.
As I was thinking about this post, I found several good quotations about gossip:
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