The towns that eat themselves

Gossipmongers are ruling communities through bullying tactics that could lead to their self-destruction, recent studies have revealed.

Traditionally in the human and animal kingdoms, tribes have elected their strongest as the leader. In bygone days, tittle-tattlers would rarely be more than chieftain’s lickspittle, their survival reliant on information gathering, and often met a grisly end when the newswell ran dry.

Today, with the rise of celebrity culture and social media, popularity has replaced strength as the most respected attribute, and slander is the new currency of power. It is the most convincing liars that rise to the top, their position cemented by a network of sham that threaten to irredeemably pervert communities.

One such bullshit boss is Dick Little, who claims to run a small Sussex town from a part-time position in a local freehouse. Through a combination of opportunism and Machiavellian scheming he can get nay-sayers barred, abused, beaten up and ostracised. Last year he belittled a sick man and robbed a pensioner. This winter he is looking forward to hijacking a will and his first murder.

“When I used to work as a postman no-one really respected me, but I saw a way in and made the play,” remembered the conniving gossip. “As a customer, I badmouthed the previous bar staff so much I got their job. Drunks are really pliable, and a bartender is a position of trust, so my lies were taken as gospel. I used to take people to one side for a quiet talk, whisper in their ear about who does what. Made them feel important, and me too.”

The puppet-master had sage advice for those wishing to emulate his success in their own township. “Best thing is to target someone, make up a belittling name for them, get that repeated, spread a few fake stories. It gives everyone a whipping boy to agree on. Then you’re even more of a hero.”

“It’s also good to have a crew around you, as loud as possible. That way it doesn’t look like the abuse is coming from you, and they shout over anyone who doesn’t see the funny side of snidely destroying someone’s reputation. No-one wants the crew to round on them.”

“The nicer people are, the more you can get away with,” he boasted. “You take everything down to the level of playground bullying, no adult wants to admit that’s how they’re acting, so it just continues. The funniest thing is when I accuse someone honest of being a hoity-toity scuttle-butt, and it sticks like mud. Incredible really. I should have had my wings clipped years ago, but now no-one can touch me.”

Historically, the end of ancient civilisations was telegraphed by a descent into incest and cannibalism. The dissolution of honesty has made post-Brexit UK communities increasingly insular, as foreigners, weirdos and normal people depart. The need for a fresh scapegoat to keep the pack happy is now straining even the most diligent gossip leaders.

“I’ve got everyone abusing Baldy Mark and Smelly Bob,” chuckled Dick Little, oblivious to his influence being reduced to a handful of drunks and apathetic passersby. “But even I don’t think jeers and mocking comments will be enough, not now the price of beer has gone up.”

“Need to arrange a good lynching, times are desperate.”

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