Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gossip girl - is it a cultural thing?

So I've been stateside for a little over a week and all is good. But one thing that always catches me by surprise is the gossipy way tha people interact with each other here. Now it may just be where I live (New Jersey is not really known for being high-brow), but everywhere I go it seems that everyone is talking about everyone else.

Yesterday at the swim club I sat next to a man and a woman, mid 30s, who were blaming a mother for her child's drug addiction. The reason? She worked outside the home. Oh, and she bossed her husband around a lot. She just refused to accept her role as a wife. This conversation went on for about 30 minutes, and my jaw just got lower and lower.

Finally I started singing a little song to LO about'get that woman, back in the kitchen, back where she belongs.' They shut up pretty quickly after that.

And so it goes, out at restaurants, with friends, it's just gossip, gossip, gossip. And I'd like to say that most of it is not mean-spirited, but a lot of it is. A lot of it is pointing out where others have gone wrong. Oh and it is best if it is dramatic.

Now it night just be my Swedish friends and family, but the level of gossiping in Sweden is much more muted. Even if people are interested, they pretend to be only mildly so. In cafes I don't hear so much about other people's drug addictions, failed diets and infidelities. It may come across as bait superficial, but I find the gossiping even more so.

I always feel like so much more happens to people in Jersey, but maybe it's just that we make more noise about what's happening?

PS I'm writing this on my phone, so please forgive the mistakes


  1. A Canadian Import friend told me last week that his next door neighbour wants a new car.. so he is waiting for another neighbour to buy one first.. go figure??

  2. Which song is that? I tried to find it on youtube, but there didn't seem to be any with that line in the lyrics.

  3. That's interesting, I find the same in England, that they gossip much more here than in Sweden. In Sweden you can be rude to someone's face, not sure I really miss that but at least you know what people think about you.

  4. I agree that in Sweden it seems peopler are just rude or inconsiderate to your face. I have repeatedly heard my MIL and her sister tell my husband how ugly they think his hair and beard is. Personally I would like it better if they just said it when we were gone!

  5. You could say that it's rude, but you could also say it's caring. When somebody tell something about you that they think could be better, it's a chance to improve.

    "Oh no, here comes mr. soggy socks!"
    "Eeww! Let's get out of here!"


    "Hey! You should really change socks more often, they stink."
    "So that's why people keeps running away from me? I hadn't thought of that. Thanks!"

    So your inlaws could just be showing that they care about your husband and don't want people to believe that he's a hobo.

  6. @anon - is your Canadian friend living in Sweden or the US? Keeping up with the Jonses seems to be universal perhaps?

    @Mazui - ha, it was a little song that I wrote on the spot. I didn't quite know what to say to their faces (see the Swedish shyness rubbing off there?) and was playing with my toddler in the pool next to them, so I sung a little tune to him instead. Yes I am a dork. And no I didn't sing it enough to scar my child.

    @hemborg - I know, sometimes I am a little taken aback by the forward comments, but I do appreciate a chance to respond and defend myself. But if they keep it up after I've responded, that would drive me nuts.

    I just find the cattiness of constantly using other peoples lives, miseries and troubles as a source of entertainment a bit disconcerting. I wondered if it wasn't an offshoot of some of the 'reality' programming scripted moments or if they are more a reflection of actual reality.