According to Webster’s Dictionary, gossip is the “rumor or report of an intimate nature; a chatty talk.” The dictionary also defines gossip as “someone who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others.”

Juicycampus.com, a Web site recently shut down after much controversy, served as a vortex for student gossipers to sit and chat about casual events of the day. Any college student could access the Web site, select their current college listed (optional) and start chatting about how much they hated their classes, who was sleeping with who, who was starting to get fat and who the hottest freshman was.

J.W. Wiley, director of the Center for Diversity, Pluralism and Inclusion and an interdisciplinary studies and philosophy lecturer, defines gossip as “the center of counterproductive chit-chat, often about things a person doesn’t know.”

“The No.1 reason some people gossip is because they don’t have anything else to do with their time,” Wiley said.

He uses an ancient creole proverb to describe people who gossip as having an “idle mind for the devil’s workshop,” meaning people who aren’t using their time in a positive manner are easy prey for the negativities of the world.

Wiley also said people who gossip significantly change their body language.

“If you were to gossip about someone and that person just happened to walk in, the whispers would just stop and the atmosphere would just change,” he said.

Feeling very strongly about this subject, Wiley even posted a blog about gossiping.

And he is not alone on his adverse feelings toward it.

Ruth Merceron, a PSUC sophomore, said she believes people who gossip don’t have enough going on in their lives, so they tend to talk about other people’s personal matters.

“Gossip is a universal thing,” she said. “Americans idealize gossip by the magazines and TV shows that condone it, but I come from a Haitian background, and I have many family members that gossip too.”

The new hit TV show, “Gossip Girl,” is a young-adult series stemming from the book “Gossip Girl” written by Cecily von Ziegesar about rich students who attend an elite prep school and entertain their lives by gossiping about their enemies’ (and friends’)  sexual lifestyle and the latest scandals.

Carol Lipszyc, an assistant English professor at PSUC, also said she believes gossip is not the most ethical form of human communication.

“Gossip gives people a superior sense of knowledge which can help make their lives better,” Lipszyc said.

Besides the negative aspect of gossiping, there has always been a stigma that women gossip the most.

“Men gossip, but women gossip more,” Charlene Kingston, a PSUC student said. “People gossip to get the latest drama. Everyone gossips. It’s universal.”

When asked how she deals with people who gossip about her, Kingston said, “I just ignore people who gossip about me.”

Kaylie Mousaw, a PSUC junior, said she likes to clear the air when people gossip about her.

“I like to ask them about what was said, but I don’t do it in a negative and confrontational way,” she said. “Women may gossip more than men because they feel as if they’re supposed to due to the stereotypes bestowed upon women.”

Despite all the negative connotations of gossiping, some PSUC students believe it can be healthy.

“As long as it’s not detrimental to someone’s image, gossip can be fine,” PSUC student Jennifer Joshua said. “It doesn’t have to be necessarily a bad thing. Talking about how cute a girl’s shoe is can be classified as good gossip.”

Although she is surrounded by gossip, Joshua said the discussion is never brought to her attention, even though she knows people talk about her.

Graduate student Jacynth Johnson said he believes gossip is simply a waste of time and energy.

“If anyone gossips about me, then it means that I’m just that important,” he said. “Gossip just has a negative connotation.”

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