I totally agree with you that gossip is bad and it can have some major consequences, but we all still do it to an extent that it is intergrated into our communication system. Everyone gossips, from the youngings to the elderly who tells kids to get off their lawns.
Gossip is talking about people behind their back without them knowing with other people, usually bad stuff and very private. It can also be the spreading of rumours, which may be true, or may be false. So basically, gossip is the social bonding between two or more people at the cost of the person who is the subject of the gossip, usually degrading them and thus, making them the victim.
So why do people gossip? People might be bored, some may of the intent of ruining a relationship so they might have a shot at it, or may be for revenge. There are loads of reasons, but I am going to focus on one particular aspect that a friend of mine was subjected to because I found it pitiful, yet funny in the end.
John and Hayley are a couple and are having a blast from what they told me. And our mate Dave really likes Hayley, so what does he do? Dave spreads false rumours that John is cheating on Hayley and that he is using her. Obviously, this juicy piece of gossip spread like wild fire and Hayley becomes uncomfortable and begins to question John. John, being the one girl man he is feels insulted, and knowing the source of the gossip, drops a hint that he knows what has been said to Dave. And Dave acts clueless and innocent! Next day, Dave continues spreading the same rumour on MSN to another mate Kelly. Kelly knew it was a gossip, gives Dave hell and copies and paste the conversation to John. Ahh the wonders of copy and paste. It did not end well I will tell you that but I found it hilarious nevertheless that Dave could do that to his mate, and when confronted, act all innocent.
Imagine the old lady at the start, who also appears at the end of the image is Dave and the old guy in the white hat and is pointing at Dave at the end is John.
The moral of this crude story is that, gossiping is bad, and it will have reprocussions and it will come full circle and bite you somewhere where it will hurt.