HomeArts & EntertainmentArtThe 'Normal Gossip' Guide to Spilling Tea

The ‘Normal Gossip’ Guide to Spilling Tea

One of the best, and worst, parts of the internet is how easily it lets us spread gossip. From celebrity feuds to Twitter main characters, any juicy story can go viral in an instant — and any poster can become a top-notch storyteller. But how do we stay a little more on the Gwynaissance side of dirt-mongering (a good-natured meme-ification of a megacelebrity) and a little less on the Caleb from West Elm side (the doxxing of a run-of-the-mill serial dater)? Alex Sujong Laughlin and Kelsey McKinney, the duo behind the hilarious podcast Normal Gossip (Season Four is streaming now and they will be on tour this summer) — which devotes each episode to an anonymized story of a real-world drama — break down what constitutes good gossip, how to dish responsibly, and which subjects are untouchable.

Choose Your Gossip Wisely
Sharing stories about people isn’t just shooting the shit — it has a purpose. “Gossip as a way to reinforce social standards and create rules for the community has always existed,” explains McKinney. “It is funny to read gossip columns from the Thirties and Forties, where it’s like, ‘Oh, my God, her dress was so short,’ and that’s scandalous.” But if you’re going to use this tool, it’s important to carefully consider the target. “Gossip about the White House has a different weight than gossip about [a] co-worker,” says Laughlin. “It has everything to do with the amount of power that the people have and the power that the narrative about them has. So if that narrative is refuted or undercut in some way, that’s going to have an equally powerful effect, either for good or evil.”

Leave Normies Out of It
It’s bad enough to try to get into the head of your favorite pop star, but still worse to go after an unknown, unfamous individual. “There’s this idea of unintentional virality that everybody now in the world is vulnerable to,” says Laughlin. “You can accidentally go viral through seemingly no fault of your own.” She cites Couch Guy — a college student whose girlfriend surprised him with a visit to campus, sparking a ruthless curiosity about the nature of his relationship with a girl sitting next to him at a group hang, followed by intense harassment of all three people — as an example of cyber sleuths going too far.


“Say you are sitting on a couch, sitting next to this guy, and then his long-distance girlfriend comes, and it’s all filmed, and suddenly there are a million TikToks deconstructing your body language toward this guy, and you did not ask for any of that,” she says. “Couch Guy would’ve been very different if the story had stopped with ‘She opens the door, and he doesn’t look the most thrilled to see her.’ That’s funny on its own. Where it became destructive was the hordes of people who decided that it was their right to know everything there is to know about these people and their relationship.”

Pick the Right Frame
If you want your gossip to catch on like wildfire — for the right reasons — be strategic about your tone. “It’s a genuine, warm congeniality, with a sense of humor to it — there’s a lightness,” says Laughlin. Or, as McKinney puts it, it’s “sweet conspiratorial. You’re just like, ‘Let’s create a team. Let’s be on a team. I’ll tell you everything I know, and you can tell me everything you know, and then together we can thwart our enemies.’”

Stay Connected
Must Read
You might also like


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here