Tiger, why are you apologizing?

Why do celebrities and politicians apologize after having extra-marital affairs?  Marriage is a private affair and often has nothing to do with what the offender is known for in the first place.  I was always in the “so what if Clinton cheated – let Hillary deal with that crap” camp.  Bill Clinton was a great president…up until the point when his leadership was sidetracked by having to defend his “integrity” to a gloating Republican caucus.  That was a shame.

Rachel Maddow – who is fast becoming one of my favorite female heroes since I started listening to the podcast of her daily show – even did a story on the Tiger Woods confession, and as she mentions in the clip, this isn’t the kind of story on which she usually reports.  She does point out though, that when a story becomes so big that it affects the stock market, it becomes necessary to give it a mention.

Actually, there are celebrities apologizing all over the place.  They’re sorry for cheating, for drinking and driving, for yelling at paparazzi, for offending their fans, ya, dah-dah, dah-dah.  Newsweek online has a pretty great slide show of their favorite celebrity screw-ups and the subsequent media-blitz apologies.  And I admit it…I scrolled through every one.  Is this all about gossip – we love the juicy trash talk?  That’s why Cops, Springer, etc are world-wide successes, right?  

I did a little googling and found newspaper articles, books, journal articles, blog posts and all sorts of information about gossip.  Gossip and rumor research is an entire subsection of the science of social psychology.  Trust me.  Haha – look, I’m starting a rumor about rumor research! 

Darn it though, I wanted to write a nice little rant about how much gossip sucks, and now I find out that all of my questions actually have answers (or at least theories) – now I have to go and research before I can justifiably rant.  Bummer, dude.

I found a great quick-reference on gossip at howstuffworks.com.  They discuss the characteristics, science, benefits and ethics of gossip.  And then they give me The Answer to my questions!  Here is the reason why I believe we really gossip:

A lot of the time, people could learn the same information about social rules and standards through observation. However, observing people’s behavior takes longer and requires more effort than gossip does.

Yup, we gossip because we’re lazy.  Passing on accurate information takes a lot longer and more concentration that just throwing out “he said, she-said” (as I’m re-discovering with this blog post).  And really, there’s so many things to do and learn in the meager 75-80 years we have here on Earth; is it any wonder that we like to take shortcuts?

But, I’ve really gotten off track here.  We’ve learned about gossip, yeah!  But why the APOLOGIES???  Do you care if Tiger is repentant?  He cheated – that doesn’t affect my life.  I don’t care if he’s sorry, or if he goes out and tries to beat Warren Beatty’s record.  I’ve guess that damage control is the major issue in Tiger’s case – he’s going to lose sponsors, but he may manage to hang on to a few if confesses, scourges his back with a flail…oh, oh wait!  It’s the Christian guilt thing, isn’t it!?  But wait, he’s Buddhist.  But his sponsors might be Christians…

Ack…my head hurts…blog post derailing…interest waning…

Funny gossip quotes:

“Honestly, I like to hear negative gossip about people I don’t know or don’t like. I like to hear positive gossip about people I know and like.” RA from a TiernyLab blog post on gossip.

From quotegarden.com

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit next to me.” Alice Roosevelt Longworth

“Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules.”  Douglas Adams

“It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper.” Errol Flynn

Tiger, why are you apologizing?