Okay, I can help it, but I don’t want to.
Contrary to appearances, I do respect people’s privacy; I don’t get information just to turn around and blab to other people. That’s not to say I’m above gossiping, but anything said in confidence will remain in confidence, at least to those whom we mutually know. Also, if you are discussing a private matter in public and not even making an effort to lower your voice, you should expect the story to be overheard (and possibly evaluated) by others. (This is how I explain listening to other people's dinner conversations.)
Also contrary to appearances, I like people. They’re interesting. I may hate working with them
Anyone who browses PostSecret, listens to This American Life, or reads memoirs understands that such curiosity transcends petty gossip. That whatever is happening on the surface contains layer upon complex layer of stories and memories to explain it. That gestures and facial expressions are as significant as the words, and at times more so. People-watching is how I learn how the world works. It’s what compels me to read, to learn about culture and history, and to try to figure out why things are the way they are.
This is all basically an über-pretentious way justifying my habit, but I suppose I could entertain worse ones, like cocaine. Or watching The O'Reilly Factor.