Social psychologists are now suggesting that gossip is more than just idle chatter. They claim that it is a way for us to "navigate our complex social world." It seems some folks just talk about other people behind their backs to feel out social situations, to gage the reaction of others in an attempt to validate certain feelings or to just add a little spice to the mix.
It is nice of the social psychologists to give us an excuse for our bad behavior and to ignore the consequences of that behavior.
We now have permission from the "they" of the world to badmouth each other. Sew discord! Cause division! Tear others down! That's what we've got to do to survive in this complex social world!
And then run for cover! Because I am sure social psychologists have excuses for the reactions of the people we've been talking about too.