In spite of all of my better instincts, I have developed a quasi-addiction to a gossip site called Crazy Days and Nights. Its main feature is something called a “blind,” which offers rumors and scandals about celebrities. Regular followers of the site chip in with comments under each blind that help to guess the identity of the person under scrutiny, be it for public drunkenness, a drug relapse, or simply caught in the act of being a real prima donna. Eventually the comments coalesce around one or two celebrity clues. A few weeks or months later, the site’s anonymous host, Enty, reveals the blind.
According to Vanity Fair, what makes this site unique from other gossip media is that it actually names names rather than safely staying with the innuendo. As a result, Enty attempts to stay under the radar with anonymity to protect himself from lawsuits and guys with baseball bats. Or perhaps an unmasking from Wikileaks.
The thing is, I’m really not all that interested in celebrity gossip. So many of the famous people being dissed on this site are 30 and under, and I have no earthly idea who most of them are anyway.
What I do think is fun are the comments from some of Crazy Days and Nights’ active participants. While there are unfortunately a tiny smattering of those usual snarky (and sometimes profane) trolls whom we all try to generally avoid online, most of the regulars on this site make it a game with one another and try to correctly guess the blind. I get more than a few grins from their posted interactions. It’s lately become one of my guilty pleasures.
Inevitably at some point in the process, remaining brain cells kick-in and remind me that I’ve just spent 40 minutes on a freakin’ gossip site. Management might not be monitoring my online activities anymore, but I probably can and should find something more productive, or even — <GASP> — enriching, to occupy my brain instead of reading about Zac Efron’s peccadilloes. Alert followers to this blog might recall a classic novel that I’m supposed to be reading right now, and in which I have a self-imposed deadline of next month to finish.
In the end, it’s between me and my conscience.
I hate it when my conscience rears its sanctimonious head.
But come on, please. Aren’t we are all guilty of engaging in gossip in some fashion whether we’re willing to admit it or not?
Gossip has an insidious way of globbing onto us in the workplace and most definitely within our families. There’s no way to really control it. It happens as we navigate around those metaphorical landmines when we exchange information with one another.
I won’t venture a guess which environment is more prone to it — your family or the workplace. But I bet it’s safe to assume that the more extended your family is, or the larger your employer is, the faster all that gossip will spread. Add in a multitude of nieces, nephews, cousins, and in-laws, and you have the makings of a 501(c)3 cooperative all set to pass on the tidbit of your recent battle with the gout.
The betters who walk among us feign either ignorance or adopt an air of Switzerland when they come into contact with such lowbrow, déclassé chatter. But you can be sure that these “pillars of probity” are every bit as fascinated as the rest of us when they heard about Wanda in Accounting, and how she was seen groping the FedEx guy in the mail area the other afternoon. You can’t escape gossip no matter how hard you try.
Of course, social networking gives us quite a bit to work with in the dissemination of rumors and innuendo. As much as we all try to put our best foot forward in creating a specific persona of how we want the world to see us, that same public display can also be our downfall when we least expect it.
For instance, it seemed funny at the time when one of your bridesmaids snapped a picture of you in the lap of the male stripper hired for your bachelorette party. A pity your soon-to-be mother-in-law didn’t feel the same after she saw it on Snapchat. Let’s hope it somehow misses the attention of the HR officer three jobs from now.
Other than employers or judgmental family members, there is a more practical consideration to be wary of parading online for gossip or attention: it can be dangerous.
Kim Kardashian West’s recent robbery at gunpoint is a telling example of the dangers one can face by putting too much of a private life on display. Her attackers were apparently well aware of not only her whereabouts, but also the jewelry she had in her possession, courtesy of photos she was routinely posting on Instagram.
In the olden days we would show friends our vacation pictures after we returned home. But thanks to a desire for immediacy and an urgent need to share everything happening in real-time, we now take our “friends and followers” along with us via the cell phone. Ms. Kardashian was very fortunate in that she wasn’t physically harmed. Her experience, however, is a sobering warning that gunning to be above-the-fold in the gossip rags can also be potentially life-threatening. Maybe Greta Garbo had it right all along about being alone.
Truthfully, though, I get bored really easily. In all probability I suspect I’ll lose my addiction to “Crazy Days and Nights” in a few weeks.
At one point last year I became utterly fascinated by the Twitter feed of pharmaceutical bad boy Martin Shkreli. His audacity to raise the price of a drug by 5,456-percent and then defend it so aggressively against a unanimous roar of public disapproval, showed a kind of moxie that I thought belonged more in a Tom Wolfe novel than the medical establishment. Soon, though, his boorishness and defensive posture became so ordinary and unremarkable that I lost interest. Or maybe I simply became more transfixed by the boorish, audacious orange guy running for president. I really can’t recall.
So pardon my lowbrow escapades at the moment. In thanks to your gracious deference, I promise to look away when I see YOU thumbing through that copy of the Star while in line at the Piggly Wiggly.
Until next time…