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The Utility of Gossip


An interesting story on NPR discusses an evolutionary bias in the human brain that favors gossip. It’s an interesting story but I would argue further that such a bias is more suggestive of a human awareness of deceit and the related need to seek truth and reality. Each individual is keenly aware of the multiple roles that humans must present to the world: at times we are a professional version of ourselves while at other times we are social, laid-back or simply indifferent to our lives. In many cases these varied roles contradict each other and may in fact mock the alternative roles.

Gossip is composed of the secret details that compose the gaps between these different roles. All humans seek truth and reality and gossip possesses powerful contents connecting our varied roles. Who is the true human being? When we interact with someone it is often this question at work. Can we actually know the answer to this question? Is it possible to crack the thick mask that human beings wear? I argue that it is not. I feel it is impossible to know the individual at the core level. Even in those who we know intimately there is a deeper level at which that individual holds details too personal to share. In short, we will never know an individual in full. The human being is too complex an animal and our need for certainty and the truth is merely a desire arising from our awareness of these complexities.

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