Gossip Culture, the Spice of Life among Pinoys

2015-0918 Gossip Culture, the Spice of Life among Pinoys


DUBAI: From the high and mighty to ordinary Filipinos, gossiping is a favorite pastime in the Philippines, a deeply rooted culture which experts now say may be good in many ways.

Many Filipinos in the UAE say gossiping is a way of life that they carry through with them to survive loneliness and stregthen the bond with each other.

And their new-found platform is Facebook which has over a billion users who dish out on just about anything.

“We talk about the latest showbiz news, people within our circle and share our stories with each other. This is healthy gossiping because it enables us to cope up with our situation despite the absence of our families,” said Elena M., a young mother of two who works in Dubai.

The dictionary defines gossip or “tsismis” in Filipino as idle talk or rumor, about the personal or private affairs of others. And the act of gossiping is known as dishing or tattling.

Filipinos’ fascination on idle talk dates back to pre-Spanish period.

In fact, during the Spanish colonial era, Filipinos, whom the Spaniards called “Indios” had been noticed to love huddling into small groups for hours and hours of idle talks.

“The possible explanations why gossip became the past time of early Filipinos are that gossiping has high entertainment, and had recreational value. Apparently, it was readily available and is a very cheap form of recreation. Also, gossiping served as a survival mechanism against the Spaniards at that time. Gossiping may also have served to build relationships and exclude others. Our ancestors were able to disclose trusted information which is vital to their survival and wellbeing as a whole,” explained Dr. Djonde Antiado, assistant professor on Social and Behavioral Sciences, at the University of Modern Sciences in Dubai.

“Gossiping is a universal innate nature of man. As social or cultural beings, we need to comprehend, understand the complex and changing environment around us, and build social networks. We gossip because we want life to be more predictable – as we get to know more about the people around us things become more predictable,” she added.

Some claim they never engage in gossip. However, various studies indicate that when there is an opportunity, men and women tend to focus their conversations on social topics and two-thirds of these topics involve gossip.

According to Dr. Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University gossip is what makes people human because it allows them to pass on vital information on who to trust and bond with friends and family as well.

“Gossiping is just chatting with people and keeping up to date with the social world in which you live. So gossip is what makes us human. The use of gossip in a negative sense is not seen until the 18th century. It used to be what you did with your friends,” Dr. Dunbar was quoted as saying.

Antiado further explained that gossiping allow people to learn and reflect about themselves.

“From a psychological perspective, social connection stimulates the feel-good brain chemical oxytocin, so regular gossip might be a way of feeling good about yourself. As we engage in gossip, we get to reflect and learn about ourselves more. This does not imply that we are evil when we hear and enjoy talking about other people,” he said.

“In the case of celebrities, who seem to have everything in life, make mistakes and become the talk-of-the-town, we realize that they are humans like us or like everyone else, and their experience forewarn us about the possible consequence of a particular action,” he added.

Malicious Gossip

But while experts consider gossip as generally healthy, some crossed the boundaries, thus, deemed malicious.

For some OFWs, the workplace is a popular location for dishing out someone disliked by everyone.

Although workplace gossip is seemingly harmless, psychologists and human resource experts say that gossip is a form of workplace violence, noting that it is “essentially a form of attack.”

“When two or more individuals talk about someone who is not around in an evaluative way whether positively or negatively, they are gossiping. Gossiping has a social value. However, when the talk is malicious, it is considered a form of attack. Malicious or vicious gossip is likened to an anaconda – it wraps itself around people and literally sucks the wind out of them,” Antiado explained.

This is what happened to Ryzza (not her real name), an accountant at a firm in Dubai who is currently a subject of gossip at her workplace because someone in her office is spreading a gossip that she is involved with a married guy.

She told The Filipino Times she is in a dilemma because she feels that everyone at work is talking behind her back. The sad truth is that it’s her best friend who is having an extra marital affair and not her.

The malicious talks at work is giving her a lot of stress, Ryzza said.

“When the implication of the gossip will ruin the lives of people, tarnish or malign the reputation of someone, cause rift among family members, break hearts, and cause someone to eventually quit his or her job or leave home – this is considered malicious and therefore toxic to the wellbeing of both the gossipers and the one who is being gossiped. Gossip could be a source of stress – causing inner turmoil, anguish, inability to sleep etc., affecting the immune system. As a result, it impacts on one’s overall health,” Antiado remarked.

“The gossiper would likewise be affected by his or her own doing. Initially, disclosing confidential information makes one the center of attention he or she becomes “powerful”. However, time will come that people will eventually avoid them because they can’t be trusted, and they become social isolates. Being branded as a “gossiper” is not a good reputation. To be labeled as one who is unworthy of trust is hurtful.”

According to Dr. Gregory Mavrides, bad gossip had transcended to cyber bullying in the United States, that resulted to some tragic events.

“In the United States we called it cyber bullying. High school girls in America have actually been led to suicide. Some girls are jealous or hate this particular girl so they started lies about her and posted bad things including her photos on Facebook. It makes easy to hurt people. It is a very convenient way of spreading gossip and rumors easily,” said Dr. Mavrides when asked about the role of social media in propagating gossiping.

Considered an expert in psychology, Dr. Mavrides said gossip among Filipinos is actually geared to make them more competitive.

Colonized by Spain for more than 300 years, followed by brief occupations by the Japanese and Americans, passing information secretly has been a way of life among Filipinos.

And even as it has progressed to become an independent nation, talking about sensitive issues remain in secrecy for many Filipinos.

“Competitive gossip applies to Filipino Culture. I think it’s an attempt to be competitive, to express jealousies. The goal is to compete and sabotage,” said Dr. Mavrides.

“The government in the Philippines has always been notoriously corrupt. The Filipinos are used to corruption. When you have this discrepancy in social classes and statuses, the people are more likely to gossip and sabotage each other,” he added. “When I was in the Philippines, I couldn’t believe how competitive some family members with each other, putting each other down. There are so much competition among who is better, who has this and who has that and it’s kind of disturbing.”



(Source: FilipinoTimes.ae)

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