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 19 Going Incognito We all secretly wonder what mischief we’d make if invisible: When our identity is hidden, everything seems possible. Arts & Culture Issue 19 The Best Policy Sometimes we talk to each other without feeling heard. Honesty—a most intimate interaction—can be just as thrilling as its more devious inverse. Arts & Culture Issue 19 A Sense of Suspense With unhinged imaginations and mountains of cliff-hangers, the filmmakers behind the sci-fi podcast Limetown have all the makings of a scary story. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Like Clockwork In this new column about time, we learn how slipping off our watches makes us feel like deadline-damning renegades. Arts & Culture Music Issue 19 On a Grander Scale Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna now may live on the opposite side of the globe, but she’s determined to evolve while staying true to her roots. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Neighborhood: Fire Stations The firefighting profession has evolved over time from Ancient Rome’s rudimentary bucket brigades to today’s sleek life-saving departments.