Proverbs says, "He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends."
Now, some things must be told, a friend considering suicide for instance. But I believe that most of the gossip that is spread is done with good intentions. Gossip can be repeating someone's past to "warn" them about talking with them.
In my experience, when confronted about gossip, people say, "but it's true!" In my experience, most gossip is true.
It can be asking about somebody else's situation to "pray for them." Sometimes though we end up spending more time talking about the problem than on our knees in prayer about it.
Proverbs has boatloads to say about about gossip. That makes me think it's not as rare as it seems.
A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.
The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts.
In fact, Jesus said, "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken."
I want to take that seriously and not just shrug it off.