So says the New York Times. Among the various functions of gossip are the following:
Gossip not only helps clarify and enforce the rules that keep people working well together, studies suggest, but it circulates crucial information about the behavior of others that cannot be published in an office manual.
Members of the Church often are admonished by Church leaders not to gossip. In most instances, the primary concerns seem to be the bearing of false witness and negative criticism. When such pitfalls are avoided, however, gossip is not only useful, but essential to the functioning of a healthy ward or branch. How else would we learn that Sister Jackson is in the hospital? Or that Brother Murphy lost his job? We want to know those sorts of things so that we can leap to Sister Jackson’s or Brother Murphy’s aid, and I assume that information circulation in this context (“good gossip”) is uncontroversial.
I am more interested in a different role for gossip: rule clarification. Do you learn the Gospel via gossip? I do. For example, with regard to the doctrine of Sabbath observance, my views about Sabbath-appropriate activities have been influenced by hearing about what other families in my wards consider appropriate behavior.
I believe that most of us rely on stories to contextualize Gospel principles. We are all like lawyers attempting to understand the contours of a legal rule, constantly comparing highly textured facts to abstract guidelines. One of the important methods we use to acquire such facts in a setting close to our own is gossip. So don’t be embarrassed about sharing stories. Gossip is good, in more ways than one.