Why is Celebrity Gossip So Popular?

Why is Celebrity Gossip So Popular?

Reposted from the Spiritual Sunflower's wordpress blog, originally posted on September 18th, 2018

This is a story I wrote for the Florida Southern College student newspaper


Why is Celebrity Gossip So Popular?


Our screens are being taken over by other people’s lives in today’s society.

Celebrities like Kanye West and Justin Bieber and the Kardasian family are all over our social media. They’re are on our Twitter feeds sharing something funny, on Instagram showing off their new clothes or a new product, even on TV and having stories written about their secrets and personal life.

“Celebrities that I usually follow are just music producers, so I can see what kind of new music is coming out,” said Alexa Garcia, Florida Southern junior.

There’s no escape from learning about people’s lives that, honestly, I don’t care about. What is it about these people that puts their lives all over my social media feeds and searches, without me looking to find out any of it?

In 2015, Medical Daily delved deeper into why we love celebrity gossip.

“The human brain is hardwired to tune in to gossip, but there’s something different about celebrity gossip that sets it apart from everyday office chatter,” said Dana Dovey from Medical Daily.

According to Daniel Krugar, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Michigan, our desire to know about the activity of higher-status individuals is actually an evolutionary tactic. Krugar spoke to Live Science about this evolutionary tactic and further explained that by learning what higher-status individuals do, we are preparing to become one and be able to navigate their social scene.

Celebrities spend more money than most of the general public, go on more vacations and have out of the ordinary careers. Essentially, they have what we want, so we pay attention to what they’re doing and how they got it.

Another reason for celebrity gossip’s popularity is building connections. The lives of celebrities are shared so much and in so much detail that we feel like we know and relate to them, even if we’ve never met them.

Celebrities and all their followers have a relationship, whether personal interactions have occurred or not. “I think celebrity gossip is so popular because the media connects us with celebrities so much it’s almost like we’re they’re friend,” said Garcia.

Followers of celebrities also build relationships, sometimes creating fandoms to the point of nicknames like “Bieber fever.” Stuart Fischer, professor of media psychology at the University of UCLA found that people who lack social skills may use a celebrity as a base to form relationships with people who also like that celebrity.

It isn’t just celebrity gossip in general that our brain seeks. Humans are actually more inclined to read about any type of misfortune.

The BBC set up an experiment to test whether “negativity bias”, or our inclination to read bad news, is actually real, and solid evidence found this to be true. The results found that people were more likely to choose to read news stories with a negative tone, such as corruption.

At the same time, the participants in the experiment said that they preferred to read good news, but the media is too focused on negative stories. “Bad news could be signal that we need to change what we’re doing to avoid danger,” said Tom Stafford from the BBC.

When it comes to celebrities, we’re able to see what mistakes they make in their own lives and try to prevent making those same mistakes ourselves.

“Of course we will make mistakes but it’s always neat to see how they will grow from it,” said Tina Pagano, also a Florida Southern student.

Celebrity gossip can be motivating. It can be inspiring. It can be entertaining. It can even lead to new, enriching relationships that stem simply from liking the same person.

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