Let's say one of your acquaintances sees you walking across campus very late one night with a friend you had been working on a group project with, but your friend happens to be of the opposite sex. You and this particular friend happen to be laughing and joking around when your nosy acquaintance spots you. Assuming a little more to this truly platonic relationship, your acquaintance tells her roommate at breakfast the following morning that she suspects you and your friend of the opposite sex are dating. Someone else overhears this conversation. One thing leads to another, and by the end of the week, half the school has been informed that you have an STD. Sound familiar?
As ridiculous as that scenario may sound, it serves as a perfect example of how quickly a random happening can turn into a rumor, and how fast that rumor can turn into instant truth (to the public, that is). Gossip is inevitable here, and virtually everywhere. It's all around us, but why? Why do people continue to talk about others as if they are absolutely certain the information they have overheard is true, all the while spreading incredulous rumors?
I have attempted to get some insight on gossiping by calling on the help of others. Barbara Walters, one of the most popular American television journalists, sees gossip as a natural part of life, saying, "Show me someone who never gossips, and I'll show you someone who isn't interested in people." Famous artist Andy Warhol publicly admitted his socialite-like tendencies when he said: "I have Social Disease. I have to go out every night. If I stay home one night I start spreading rumors to my dogs."
As lightly as many people have addressed the subject, there still remains an underlying seriousness beneath it all. Just take a look at celebrity gossip. A few weeks ago in late October, there was a rumor that Kanye West had died in a car accident. But the rumor didn't stop at that. There were also very specific details included in the rumor, such as the types of cars in the accident, street names and legal charges pressed against those involved in the alleged accident. Of course, Kanye West is not dead, but how was such a serious and elaborate lie transmitted so quickly? On Wednesday, Oct. 21, the phrase "Kanye West died" was one of the most searched queries on Google, according to an MTVNews.com report.
With all of this being said, please consider wisely what you say, and take a close look at what you hear. I must say, I do agree with Barbara Walters, because everyone talks, but some people talk a little too much. To those who talk too much: Take a look at yourselves. Why are you so interested in the lives of others? Are your lives so lacking that you must talk and spread gossip about others, in return for petty self-fulfillment?
If so, my heart goes out to you. Get a life, quick, before you ruin someone else's! And, to everyone else: All you can do is protect yourselves. You all have the hardest part, staying true to yourselves. I leave you with a Muhammad Ali quote that Kanye West used in defense of the death rumor: "Silence is golden when you can't think of a good answer."
Contact staff writer Kiara Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org
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