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Until now, however, there has been no specific research on the role played by mobile phones in this context.
Given the important social functions of gossip – and the role of mobile phones as a modern medium for gossiping – this is a significant omission.
What are the social and psychological effects of this new gossip medium?
chatty talk about the details of personal matters and relationships, the sharing of secrets – more or less what we currently mean by gossip.
Academics engaged in defining gossip have also focused on the evaluative element of gossip, which perhaps distinguishes it from other forms of informal, chatty conversation.
Gossip is the human equivalent of 'social grooming' among primates, which has been shown to stimulate production of endorphins, relieving stress and boosting the immune system.
Two-thirds of all human conversation is gossip, because this 'vocal grooming' is essential to our social, psychological and physical well-being. Mobiles have increased and enhanced this vital therapeutic activity, by allowing us to gossip 'anytime, anyplace, anywhere' and to text as well as talk.