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I’m a Yenta

April 4, 2009

I am a yenta, it’s true. It’s something I am not always proud of, but is almost undeniable.

For the purposes of this post, I am going to define “yenta” as a gossip or busybody. i think everyone has a little yenta in them – even guys or people who pretend to not care what’s going on with your friends, I believe – secretly do. Just a little bit. It’s part of our voyeurism.  Gossip helps build social ties, and sometimes the fear of gossip keeps us from doing things we know we shouldn’t (unfortunately, that works the other way too.)

I like hearing whats going on with people, and what they are thinking or doing. And despite its negative connotation, not all gossip is mean-spirited. I relish (most) people’s accomplishments and good news as much as the bad. Also, to try to salvage my reputation, just because I like getting the goods, doesn’t mean I always share. Especially if I am asked not to divulge. Trust really is important to me.

But who people are dating (or not), what’s going on at work, who did what to whom? Awesome!  And there is so much gossip out there – sometimes I really have to make sure I am not overdosing.  Celebrity rags (TMZ, Perez Hilton), political gossip (Politico) and just well, my entire blog roll (and Google Reader). I sometimes think I am bad, but really – aren’t blogs, facebook profiles and statuses and tweets just representations of gossip? People want to share (and if they don’t, brush up on your google-fu), and people want to know the minutae of our lives and our thoughts on opinions on everything from politics to the best brand of dental floss.  Is everyone who participates in social networking/media really just gossiping?

What worries me is when I reflexively check the blogs or statuses of people I don’t even like. I don’t know if I just enjoy their failures (Paging Ms. Schadenfreude!) or if its just more useless info to fill my brain. Either way, I am going to make a conscious effort to stop. My first step was not checking celebrity junk as much – for example, I have no idea who Whitney Port is, or who she is dating. My second step was removing a lot of people from my daily reading/friend list/twitter feed. I want to fill my thoughts with things that are more productive, and make more room for the people I genuinely care about, or can learn from.

I wonder if being a yenta has anything to do with wanting to be a consultant, or an advice columnist. Or a reviewer? Hm. I think this may be all related and kind of the ultimate in Yenta-ness. Finding out what’s going on in someone’s business and then having the added bonus of giving your opinion? Heaven!

If you don’t have anything nice to say about anyone, come sit by me .” – Dorothy Parker (or Alice Roosevelt)

Famous Yentas

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2009 3:49 pm

    We’re all yentas in our own right. People are fascinated by other people. Some blanket our voyeurism by labeling it gossip, but really we just want to know what’s up with other people.

    I’m down with no celeb gossip though – that’s a bit filthy to me. I’d rather stalk their tweets…


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