July 10th, 2004

Fishy Circumstances

Gossip theories

On one end of the spectrum, there's news. On the other, there's gossip. And in between is a grey scale of intersection in which news and gossip are all part and parcel of the same thing. They are differentiated by tone of enquiry (what happened? vs. did it make them angry?), degree of scale (the world was hit by a meteor today vs. my friend broke her toe), and yet ultimately, context makes all the difference (the world's atmosphere was hit by a really tiny meteor today which burnt up before it hit the ground vs. my friend, who was about to win the Boston Marathon, broke her toe a quarter mile from the finish line). The difference becomes subjective.

News about media and celebrities take the place of communal gossip in groups that don't know each other well, and flesh out the gossip possibilities among groups that do. I grew up without a television, and so I was tuned in to how much of the five minute break between classes often revolved around discussions of what had happened on some tv show the night before. It still happens, but I can follow much of the newsworthy aspect of tv-gossip thanks to reading the news. Major tv show events are newspaper-worthy. I hadn't seen a Friends episode in years, never seen a Sex in the City episode, but I could follow the excitement around their conclusions through news articles.

Yesterday, over a lovely impromptu (organic) dinner party hosted by double0hilly and inspired by saffronjan's finding of an apartment, we sat around and discussed news...gossip... whatever it is. We talked about Gweneth Paltrow, parrots in London, translucent concrete, and James Joyce's auctioned letter to his wife. The four of us do not have a well-established common social circle, so gossip in the most local sense didn't mean as much as news of these things that none of us know personally, but all have equal reading access to.

News? Gossip? I'm not sure which.