Since time immemorial, it has been one of the favorite human activities – gossiping. It’s a sign of our curiosity. Nosiness, if you prefer.
Sometimes, many times, it can turn nasty and mean-spirited. Usually, it is less than reliable in its factual accuracy. But much of it is merely conversation about things that are of interest to us.
So, as 2013 draws to a close, we offer a look back at some of the things that had tongues wagging throughout the year.
On the national scene, Obamacare is an ongoing topic, a subject that seems never to quit giving. The matter is as politically polarizing as any in history.
Government shutdown promises to be a recurring subject, as rival politicos seize every opportunity to threaten doom and destruction if they don’t get what they want, and selectively shut down government functions to give teeth to their threats. Notice they have never, ever shut down their own paychecks or perks.
Sequestration is still with us, even though talk about it has largely faded. If nothing else, gossipers can discuss exactly how the term evolved from the word “sequester,” which means to set aside. In the case of the government’s actions, elected officials set aside the concerns and needs of the public they are supposed to be serving.
Then there were the celebrity scandals. If Americans and others around the world go to ridiculous extremes to worship certain people who become rich and famous for no good reason, they at least compensate for over-the-top adoration by throwing rocks at their idols when their feet of clay are revealed.
In 2013, no personal train wreck was as alluring as the misadventures of Miley Cyrus. The daughter of Kentucky’s Billy Ray Cyrus created quite the stir Aug. 25 with her – uh – performance during the Video Music Awards program on MTV at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
The former “Hannah Montana” star, only 21, has come a long way from her Disney Channel image, turning herself into a kind of homespun Lady Gaga. Twerk if you think that’s a good thing.
Running a close second was “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson with his comments about homosexuality in a GQ Magazine interview. But that happened in December, so Miley had a 3-1/2-month head start on Phil.
Locally, we had our own little tempests, including a real controversy over compensation paid to a county government employee and a fake one, a diabolical plot by local teenage thugs to obliterate the local pet population.
We had our own version of a story that is almost as widespread and long-lasting as governmental foibles, the Asian Carp invasion, and although many of us may have forgotten about it in these frozen days, we had a pretty aggravating problem with mosquitoes in warmer times of the year.
In a less liberated era, gossip was popularly consigned to women, young and old. In recent decades, there has been general acknowledgement that we all gossip. Well, most of us.
Technology has helped us to do more of it. Back-fence, locker-room and water-cooler chatter expanded first to the telephone, and lately to the Internet and social media.