In my senior year of college, I wrote a column for the school newspaper on gossip. My thesis was that being gossiped about is an indication that people care [maybe I’d rephrase that as notice] about you. If I remember correctly, the column received one response criticizing my [what would be called today] snarky attitude. If anything I think I was naive; gossip is such an intensely human activity that people gossip even if they don’t care about you.

So, this observation by Russell hit my intellectual sweet spot:

One of the most universal forms of irrationality is the attitude taken by practically everybody towards malicious gossip. Very few people can resist saying malicious things about their acquaintances, and even on occasion about their friends; yet when people hear that anything has been said against themselves, they are filled with indignant amusement. It has apparently never occurred to them that just as they gossip about everyone else, so everyone else gossips about them.

The only exception I can think of is Oscar Wilde.

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