Waiting in line at the grocery store is pure joy for a pop culture enthusiast. This week is no exception, because apparently Khloe Kardashian is tortured for her weight, Steven Tyler is lucky to be alive, and The Olsen Twins are America's Next Billionaires. Thank you Us Magazine, People Magazine, and Newsweek, I'm not sure how I would manage to pass the time without you.
After making my final decisions on what magazines to buy for my 'research' this week, I glanced up, and there it was. "Jens' ex lover tells all." As in, Jennifer Aniston. Holy mother-ship, thank you Star Magazine. I mean really, how I ever lived a happy life without reading your crap for so many years, I have no idea.
Before I even opened to the article I thought to myself, I get it, It's gossip. She's a hot topic. Blah blah blah. But what is it that Brian Bouma, Jen's ex flame, gains from "telling all"? Money, sure. But what else?
The feeling that he's important because he has information that others don't have? Proof for his old girlfriend that he dated Jen, just in time for his high school reunion? Power? Praise? All of the above? Well, only he and his lighting-technician of a self can answer that question for sure. But what about the rest of us? What is it exactly that any of us gain from selling gossip?
What's that? You've never sold gossip? Um, yes you have love, yes you have. We sell gossip about ourselves every day. To anyone and everyone who will buy into it.
It's something I like to call 'self-serving gossip.' It's gossip we create about ourselves with hopes that the fabulously-false information we provide might just be enough to distract everyone, including ourselves, from the truth and often from the pain of what's really going on in our lives. I know, brilliant.
Here's an example: "I'm totally fine!!" Yeah right, you're so not fine. You're a self-serving gossip queen, starting a rumor about your apparent 'fine-ness' that doesn't even exist. Way to go. What is it that you really feel? Upset but you just want to be left alone? Bummed because you don't think you should feel upset and you're nervous that I'm going to judge you? Oh-oh-oh, maybe you're hoping that if you pretend to be fine you're true feelings will just go away? Well, now you have me guessing.
And so it begins.
Just take Facebook, for example. It's become the home-base for self-serving gossip. With pictures and status updates galore, everyone makes sure to represent themselves not how they actually are, but how they want to be perceived. We sell our story to the public, to our friends, and to our "friends." The result? We become our very own celebrity publicist chock-full of self-serving gossip. Story--sold. Mission accomplished.
The truth is, it's nice to have a light self-serving gossip story waiting in the wings once in a while, for those particular moments when being totally transparent is just too emotionally exhausting. I get it. But it seems to me that we've entered into a social market where the story we create about ourselves has a much higher sale price than the story of who we really are. And I just wonder...what's it worth to become lost in your own gossip?
Well, you'll have to join Brian Bouma and answer that for yourself.