I Like To Gossip

I have, for as long as I can remember, liked gossip.

The way words can be whispered—promised, hidden, unpredictable—trickling in from you to me, or me to you. 

Words about boys, mostly. Girls, too, of course. Strangers, sometimes. Teachers, always. Friends, rarely. Family. Family friends. Family enemies. (Exes.)

This is something that’s widely frowned upon, a quality of conversation that people express anxiety over, even hatred for. A quality of myself people have gone out of their way to note and shame.

“Oh well, I don’t like to gossip,” or “We don’t know what’s really going on in their life,” or “We shouldn’t speculate,” always coming in the middle of my sentence about how so-and-so and so-and-so don’t seem to be getting along. (I mean, can I not genuinely care and wonder how other people are existing?)

Gossiping is best defined as unconstrained conversation about other people, involving details that may or may not be true.

The untruth of it all feels crucial to the definition. Gossiping, in its worst form, molds. It affects the way we perceive others, in a way that these people have no awareness of. 

Someone could be talking about you right now. Someone probably is.

But what also feels crucial is the lack of constraint, an accessibility, an open-mindedness.

My mother taught me how to gossip. My whole family did really, throwing bits of chisme over our chosen table. It always happens around the dinner table, like most Mexican memories. 

These are some of my dearest, even preferred, moments of experience. 

My family surrounding a table, my community surrounding me—with stories, possible lies, with hopes and obvious jealousy and desire and pain, sitting with complete openness, waiting to be filled in, hungry, loud, and laughing. We gasp at every word, surprised or not.

Their bodies, though, are what I mind more than the words. Their forms leaning in, slowly and attentive, bringing them closer to the next person.

It’s a movement, fluid and connective. A forward motion, a gesture, a sign, making it easier to know, to touch.

“Ah, sí,” my Momo says. “I’ve been watching the neighbors. They take out the trash on time. Their grass is always cut. The backyard looks clean. Sí, I can see through the fence. Their children are always outside, playing, in the front and the back. They play on the swing you left, hanging from the tree. I sometimes check their mailbox. You still get mail there. They seem happy.”

We laugh at her audacity. We thank her for the information. We become eased with knowing the home went to a young family. 

But that’s my Momo, always looking out for us, giving us the rundown even after we moved out of the house next to hers when my father passed.

She gives us information we didn’t know we needed.

I also learned to gossip out of necessity. Don’t we all? How else do you get to know people, especially in middle school? 

We don’t yet have the tools to hold a full conversation, much less approach someone and say, “I want to know you. Tell me about you. Who are you?”

Instead, we ask around.

What do you know about them? Are they kind? Are you friends? Why? Why not? Who are your friends? Why? Can I be your friend? 

Tell me about your family. Are they kind? Where are they from? How have they hurt you? Who hurt you? Me too. Who touched you? Me too. 

Who should I be afraid of? What should I be afraid of? I’m afraid of everything.

Who makes you feel yourself? What qualities do you look for in people? What do I look for in people?

Share your life with me. Share it with me again. Share with me your people. Tell me about who loves you. Tell me about who hates you. Let us figure out why.

I want to hear it. All of it.

Even more, social scientists, determined that gossip is likely a relic of our evolutionary past.

In order to survive, we had to know who had resources, who was powerful, who slept with who, who would stab you in the back (literally), or who you could go to when times got tough.

Now, shared information involves very different topics, but still provides just as valuable lessons.

Like I could talk to you about why my older brother is moving back home after being away for so long. (Because he misses home, and that’s okay.) 

Or how my friend went on a first date with an unknown man and came home painfully numb. (I hold an anger inside of me.)

Or what my family said in response to my ex ending things. (I am lucky. Everyone deserves a support system like this.)

I can confidently say there have been moments where I was a bad gossiper, sharing recklessly and out of sheer interest in having my voice heard. (But I won’t give an example, in hopes of being a good gossiper.)

Still, there’s no shame, no shame in sharing, or warning, or engaging.

Because what if gossiping is culture? What if gossiping is intrinsic to who I am and who we all are?

What if gossiping is just venting, or experiencing, and enduring, feeling, and receiving?

Yes, gossiping can also be dividing, biting, and advancing.

But I choose to share. I choose communion. I choose empathy. Connection. Love.

I think we all should.



  • Rose Torres

    Rose Torres is a second-year MFA candidate at LSU, with a focus in poetry and screenwriting. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Rose previously worked at UT's University Writing Center, assisting undergraduate students in developing their high-order thinking, grammar, and overall voice. Her writing focuses on memorializing mundane moments and exploring how it feels to be a young Latina who has many unanswered questions. She enjoys green tea.

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