“Gossip is essentially storytelling: storytelling about people whom we know.” – Mona Simpson, Born Jun. 14, 1957.
I think gossip – as a tone – is an under-appreciated angle when it comes to persuasion and influence.
*leans in to closer*
Listen… Gossip isn't just a story about people we know – it can be the kind of story through which we COME to know people and situations that we WISH we knew.
In scenarios where the mark wishes they could be elite, an insider, one of a special class – the person who brings them juicy gossip about that world becomes a gatekeeper.
*looks furtively over shoulder to make sure no one is listening*
Through you, they come to know a life they wonder about and maybe aspire to. It makes a strange, mysterious and enviable scenario into a familiar and understandable thing.
And when they feel like they are connected to something – they become closer to it, and can grasp it, they are more willing to be drawn in and get involved.
*lowers voice to a whisper*
Because they know the REAL secrets behind the successful. They know it's all shortcuts and illusions – thanks to you. Now they think they might actually be able to enter those realms of success.
Gossip confirms people's suspicions that the elite/rich/powerful are secretly just like them: plagued by small problems, and taking some kind of unfair advantage to achieve their vaunted and enviable position.
They're not so special. You could be them, only, you know, better probably.
And that doesn't even take into account the perception of the “leaker” who shares this guarded info.
You become their “man on the inside”. You're on their team against those undeserving and unappreciative elites. And a peculiar thing about phrasing information as though it's a secret, is that they have an odd kind of connection to you. They feel a reciprocity because you've shared the juice, presumably at risk to yourself.
But they are also partially guilty for indulging in these secrets, too. They are in cahoots with you, and inclined to do you favors.
It's a powerful and popular position that everyone but the most prudish and self-holiest of marks will willingly indulge and revel in.