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 32 Smaller Talk Tips for conversing with children. Arts & Culture City Guide The Standard, High Line Setting a high standard in the Lower West Side. Arts & Culture Food Issue 46 At Work With: Deb Perelman The little blog that could: An interview with Smitten Kitchen’s unflappable founder. Arts & Culture Issue 46 Word: Wintering When to withdraw from the world. Arts & Culture Issue 46 Brock Colyar An interview with a professional partygoer. Arts & Culture Issue 46 Studio Visit: Yoko Kubrick In the studio with a sculptor of monuments and mythologies.