I’m Dying For Some Hot Goss
After almost a year of living in pandemia, I find myself craving other people’s minor dramas like a plant craves sunlight. Almost as much as I want to eat inside a restaurant or linger in a coffeeshop, I want to bask in the heat of someone else’s embarrassments, arguments, or romantic misfires.
I want to hear about other people’s problems, so I can stop–for one blessed second–obsessing about my own.
Remote work, the removal of forced workplace fun, and the inability to gather at bars, parties, lunches, brunches, and game nights have deprived us of the fertile soil in which gossip can grow. We can’t stand around the K-Cup machine on Friday morning discussing what went down at Thursday night’s accounting department karaoke night, because there are no accounting department karaoke nights. There are no karaoke nights at all.
Gossip, like group singalongs, is in short supply, and I miss it so much.
Now I’m not talking about the kind of deeply harmful, trust-eroding gossip that Brené Brown calls “common enemy intimacy.” Brown says, “We share things that are not ours to share as a way to hot-wire a connection with a friend.” Telling other people’s secrets is a social shortcut, and I’m as guilty of using other people’s business to stoke friendships as anyone else. But gossip that relies on selling out someone else’s genuine heartache is not the kind of gossip I crave.
I miss the really dumb stuff.
The diagramming of the previous night’s tipsy blather. The precision analysis of the body language of that one weird guy on the elevator. The rehashing of the passive aggressive nuances of a particularly tense meeting.
I want to hear about other people’s roommates, other people’s spouses, other people’s families, other people’s jobs. I need the constant stream of reassurance that everyone else’s lives are just as subtly f*cked as my own–the confirmation that Instagram perfection is a veneer, and the truth is that everyone is always just a tiny bit miserable.
Mostly, I just want to hear about who’s hooking up.
As a married person in my late 30s, gorging on giggled retellings of the romantic entanglements of youthful, single coworkers is my most cherished joy. Who made out with whom at the work function mere feet from our CEO. Who who thinks whom is overrated. Who went on a Bumble date with a D-list celebrity’s ex. Living vicariously through the ill-advised trysts of my sexually fluid, body-positive Gen Z cohort keeps me young!
Extroverts like me, who are energized by constant socialization and interaction (which includes light gossip), are having a harder time with pandemic isolation than our naturally introverted brethren.
Alex Berg writes, “Nine months into the pandemic,[…]I envy [my wife’s] ability to look inward. While our former lives were orchestrated around social, professional and familial pressures that were often out of sync with her introversion, coronavirus has undone many of the ways in which we think of extroverts as having an advantage in our highly social world.”
Before last March, I had constant access to energetic bursts in my hyper-social, loud and chatty open-office environment. Now I spend my workdays in near-silence (the sounds of southern California yard maintenance notwithstanding), and it has forced me to turn inward.
I have more time and space for introspection, and I hate it.
Being surrounded by quiet has given the voice inside my brain a megaphone–and she has nothing to talk about but herself. I am so bored of my own inner monologue. So utterly drained by my own tiny dramas and emotional minutiae.
I am desperate to get out of my own head.
A friend visited recently, and we spent hours outside, walking and talking. She filled me in on the marriages and divorces and plastic surgeries and infidelities and family dramas of people I don’t know and probably will never meet. We discussed the details of other people’s weddings, other people’s birthdays, other people’s children, other people’s insignificant failures and small redemptions.
None of it was important and all of it was fascinating. Talking felt like a drug and walking felt like flying.
Until we as a society can once again gather in large groups and consume enough alcohol to collectively make bad decisions, I will remain bereft of the petty gossip that is my lifeblood. These days, I live for the occasional “I’ve got tea” texts, which thrill me, but I need more–not just a sip here or there but a whistling pot of scorching hot tea on the stove at all times.
If you’ve got any harmless gossip–about literally anything or anyone–my DMs are open.