makes human society as we know it."
Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Liverpool explains that "gossiping (though perhaps not gossip in its contemporary malicious form) is the core of human social relationships, indeed of society itself. Without gossip, there would be no society. In short, gossip is what
Originally, humans (and the apes) lived in groups to provide protection from predators. This may have protected us from becoming some predators meal, but brought on new stresses to the individuals in the group. Now the individuals have to compete with each other for the same food supply, living space and mates. We developed language to coordinate our behaviors so as to reduce the stresses of living together.
The word "gossip" originally meant to engage one's "godsibs", ones peer group, or god parents. In short, it is how we learn where to go that is safe, how to behave so as not to disturb the fabric of the group, who are the desirable mates, and who to stay away from.
In short gossip is how we form alliances. It answers the question, "Who do you trust?"
Our ancestors probably gossiped while washing clothes on the river banks or gutting animals at the end of a hunt. (Yes, men gossiped too.) Our grand parents, gossiped at the laundry mat and at the pool hall.
With every home now having a washing machine, a game console and a TV, gossip has almost disappeared. The vital lessons our society learned about living together in small groups has been usurped by the radio and television networks. Control of our day to day thinking and how we interact with each other has fallen into the hands of a small group of individuals that control the media. They want to answer the question, "Who do trust" with the answers that most benefit them, not necessarily you.
Social medias has the potential to reverse this trend. However, for the most part, its media has not progressed much beyond the invention of the movable type. Google Hangouts brings gossip (social media) up to date with full motion video and audio. This is important because we don't rely entirely on language to form our alliances. The great apes live in groups and form alliances through gestures, expressions, body language and grooming. Other than grooming, we still depend on visual clues for communication. With hangouts, we now have those aspects of alliance building as part of our social website.
One overlooked aspect of hangouts is the way you can invite your "godsibs".
Your circles could be organized around the members of your church, where you work, your, community or town. Eventually Google might provide the ability to refine this organization so that circles can contain circles. civic leaders, close friends, carpenter, artist, local business or your neighborhood might be sub-circles of the circle containing your town. With a little creative naming you could organize your circles like that now, but not as effectively.
What sets Google circles apart from other social media is while other sites let you tag or group your contacts, Google provides two mechanisms that let you form alliances. Alliances are the very fabric of any society that contain more than 80 to 150 people. These two mechanisms are extended circles and shared circles.
Think about the old joke: "The three fastest forms of communication are telephone, telegraph and tell-a-woman."
It illustrates that you can spend one minute each to phone 512 individuals in eight and a half hours. Or, you can get the same message to 512 people by calling two people who each call two people .... etc. and reach all 512 people in just twenty minutes.
The circle aspect of Google plus. is much more like the way gossip works when it comes to building alliances. I'd argue that sharing a circle of people that use hangouts is just about as close to recreating the gossip/alliance building fabric of social interaction as you can find on the web.