ENGAGE: Sociology and Gossip

When I sit down at the computer for the first time each morning, I have a little routine that I follow.  First, I check CNN and ESPN.  It makes me feel smarter somehow to hit my sources for news before looking up anything else.  After catching up on all of the latest news, both worldly and sporting, I check my email.  Once my Inbox is cleaned up and I’ve responded to whatever business I have that day, I move on to Google.  I am a Google freak.  I Google everything.  I love being able to access instantaneous information about anything that pops into my head.  For example, so far today I have Googled the following:  best crock-pot recipes, what was the name of the song playing during the credits of the movie Mannequin, books written by B.J. Novak, and who is Miles Teller’s girlfriend.  Random, I know, but that’s how my brain works.  And really, how amazing is Google that I can get the answers to each one of those questions from the same website, within just a few seconds?  Google is a marvel.  Now, after I’m done Googling, I check out my guilty pleasure…..a celebrity gossip website.  I know, I know, it’s shameful.  But my celebrity gossip website is better than anything else out there.  Let me explain.

Have you ever considered gossip to be a sociological exercise?  My celebrity gossip website is founded upon this very idea, and that is why my celebrity gossip website of choice is the Canadian-based www.laineygossip.com, run by Elaine (aka Lainey) Lui.  I can’t even tell you how I stumbled upon this website years ago, but I can tell you why I keep coming back.  Lainey believes that gossip has a value in society. She consistently analyzes the importance of gossip in its observation of social behavior, and the insight these observations can provide in understanding modern social culture, such as who we are and where we are going.



Lainey’s theory is that gossip is a conversation, and it happens to be the conversation that exposes who we are. “Because the interesting thing about Gossip is that it cannot be consumed without bias. We all consume Gossip through the prism of our own experience. And in filtering Gossip through our own experiential analysis, what comes out the other side is a pretty definitive declaration about what we believe, what we expect, what we reject, and how we process.”  – Lainey

For example, when people gossip about the cheating scandal that broke up Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson last summer, Lainey listens and wonders:  is there a gender double standard in our interpretation of celebrity cheating scandals? When this scandal was uncovered last year, why was it that Kristen Stewart was viciously attacked and the married director that she cheated with enjoyed a career surge?  With this same piece of gossip, Lainey wonders that if there is a gender double standard in celebrity cheating scandals, what does that say about our society’s expectation of females in relationships?

Remember when Chris Brown assaulted Rihanna?  Shortly after he went on to make music, win Grammy’s and go out on tour.  With this gossip subject, Lainey considers the following:  What does it say about our society’s attitude about violence towards women if a singer who abuses his girlfriend can go on to win awards and sell out concerts?

See??  Now this is an elite celebrity gossip website!  Of course she still takes some time to talk shit, but its smart shit-talking. She refers to Tom Cruise as “GMD” (gay midget dwarf), a Botoxed Nicole Kidman as “Granny Freeze,” and Twilight superfans are “Twi-hards.”

Elaine Lui


Elaine (aka Lainey) Lui

I am not the only one who thinks Lainey is on to a genius idea with her sociology and gossip theories.  Have you heard of TED Talks before?  TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.  Today, TED conferences bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives ……….in 18 minutes or less.

Lainey was invited to do a TED talk in Vancouver.  This was a big deal.  Former TED speakers have included heavy hitters Bill Gates, Al Gore, and Jane Goodall.  In my opinion, she nailed it.  If you have been engaged at all by her theories that we have discussed here today, you should check out the video of her 18 minute TED Talk.  You can check out Lainey’s TED Talk on YouTube.  It’s on our SCOUT YouTube Channel under the “Engage” playlist.  Or, you can Google it.




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