"There is no human society without gossip," according to anthropologist, Pascal Boyer, in his 2001 book, Religion Explained. "Gossip is practiced everywhere, enjoyed everywhere, despised everywhere," he explains. Ocracoke, like many other small towns, has its fair share of gossip.
Gossip can be defined as casual conversation or reports about other people. Although gossip is sometimes despised for being mean-spirited, especially when the shared information turns out to be false, Boyer reminds us that "gossip is perhaps among the most fundamental human activities as important to survival and reproduction as most other cognitive capacities and emotional dispositions."
Gossip, information about other people, Boyer reminds us, "is a resource...not to be squandered." It helps us recognize members of our tribe who are trustworthy and cooperative (and who are not), and without such knowledge we would not have stable social interactions.
One native islander summed up Ocracoke's usually non-judgemental gossip in what has become an unofficial island motto: "We don't care what you do, we just want to know about it!"
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke Lodge No. 194,
Independent Order of Odd Fellows. You can read the Newsletter here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/island-inn-lodge-no-194-independent-order-odd-fellows/.