In The Gossips, one of American painter Norman Rockwell’s most amusing and cartoonish works, he follows a tidbit of gossip as it passes from person to person until it finally reaches the ears of the subject of the rumor. He confronts the original tattletale—who is shocked that her indiscreet whisper has traveled back to its source. Most of us yield to the temptation, at least occasionally, to relay a story that would be better kept untold. It doesn’t feel quite right, but we tell the tale anyway. So why do we do it? While we know that it can inflict real harm on a person’s reputation, it can also enhance our own. Gossip reinforces connections to influential people and puts us in the information loop; huddling together with sympathetic listeners might protect us later on. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-One Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 48 How to Talk to AI Can you be rude to a robot? Arts & Culture Issue 32 Smaller Talk Tips for conversing with children. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Close Knit Meet the weavers keeping traditional Egyptian tapestrymaking alive. Arts & Culture Issue 50 The Old Gays Inside a Californian TikTok “content house” of a very different stripe. Arts & Culture Issue 50 New Roots The Palestinian art and agriculture collective sowing seeds of community. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Angela Trimbur An all-out tour de force.