Something to consider next time you’re churning the rumor mill: Gossip is the 21st century, human equivalent of picking fleas off your friends. According to an article in this month’s Scientific American Mind, gossip is a mechanism for social bonding, functioning much like grooming among other primate species. Gossip encourages egalitarian behavior by punishing group members who don’t pull their weight or play by the rules. "Many social critics have bemoaned this explosion of popular culture as if it reflects some kind of collective character flaw," writes Frank McAndrew. But, “in a highly mobile, industrial society celebrities may be the only ‘friends’ we have in common with our neighbors and co-workers."
Who started all this idle talk and newsmongering about the affairs of others? Rona Barrett did, that's who.