David Patrick Columbia
Founder, The New York Social Diary
02:15

Gossip Today

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Columbia thinks it's because we're looking for the truth about our own lives.

David Patrick Columbia

David Patrick Columbia is the founder and editor of New York Social Diary, a website that chronicles the lives of the Big Apple’s elite. Since graduating from Colby College in 1962, Columbia has led numerous lives: he's been a stockbroker, an owner of a head shop in upstate New York, a sportswear designer, a freelancer (he wrote a firsthand account of one of Truman Capote's "lost weekends"), and a scriptwriter for a courtroom television show. In 1988, Columbia finally found his calling when he collaborated with Debbie Reynolds on her autobiography. In 1994, Columbia began writing the New York Social Diary for Quest Magazine (a condensed version of the website is still printed in Quest every month). The New York Social Diary website was launched in September, 2000. Columbia has since become something of social fixture himself: he's been the subject of articles and blog posts in New York Magazine, Gawker, and the New York Observer.
Transcript

Question: Why are we consumed with the lives of others?

 

David Patrick Columbia: I think we’re always consumed with the life of others. If you read Balzac it’s all about the life of others. Or Charles Dickens or John O’Hara. And I think it’s part of the reason we’re consumed with the life of others is because we’re looking for the truth about the lives of ourselves. I think probably that’s it.

 

Question: Is there any damage in what you do?

 

David Patrick Columbia: Damage? No.

 

Question: What does consuming gossip say about us?

 

David Patrick Columbia: Gee, I don’t know how to answer that question because I’ve been a person who’s been consuming gossip all my life. Maybe they needed to be distracted from their own daily cares and woes. That’s probably one of the reasons. Another reason is they’re looking for information or just curious. Another reason is they’re working out their own ________ and Freudian envy. Or they’re working out their various free roaming fantasies. And actually they’re just killing time.

I think if you outright reject gossip, you must have a very boring life.

I think that anything having to do with knowing about the lives of others has to do with yourself. And all of us feel very isolated because we all live in our own heads. And even though we see each other, and talk to each other, and sleep with each other, and eat with each other, we still feel we’re the only ones who feel the way we feel. So the more you’re informed about others, the more you see that actually there ain’t much new under the sun, including those things that are going on in your head. In fact if it’s going on in your head, you can be sure it’s going on in somebody else’s head too – whatever that is.

 

Question: Is the culture of celebrity bigger than ever?

 

David Patrick Columbia: I think the culture of celebrity is possibly bigger than it’s ever been; but I grew up in the last half of the 20th century when there was a great deal of interest in celebrity – although they weren’t called celebrities. They use to be called stars.

 

Conducted on: October 29, 2007

 


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