Friday, February 24, 2012

Rumour has it ...

Three simple words that can ignite a flame and spread like wildfire. Back in the day, when there was no telephone and mail took months to get to its destination, rumours or gossip was fairly contained; damaging nonetheless but contained. Today with emails, texts and social media, even a hint of a rumour can travel around the globe in seconds. We see it time and again, somewhere in the myriad of feeds, posts and emails there is truth weaved in many untruths.  Reminds me of the telephone game. We've all played it.  Everyone sits in a circle and one person starts by whispering something in a person's ear. That person then leans to the next person and whispers what he/she heard, and so on.  By the time the message has arrived to the last person it has little to no semblance of the original message. Same deal with rumours. When freshly formed, the rumour is handed over to a listener, who depending on their attention span, frame of mind and interpretation takes the juicy tidbit and echoes it to the next person. The evolution begins. Information is embellished and tweaked, with a stern insistence 'don't tell anyone.' But we know what that means. The receiver of the information often turns to a person who can be trusted with sacred information. As it will turn out, there are many, many trusted people. So you may be asking yourself, what's a little harmless gossiping? After all, you're just talking, texting, emailing, tweeting and posting; it's not like you're hurting anyone...or is it?

Rumours hurt people. The power of rumours can be devastating and sometimes deadly. Once released they are consumed as meat in a school of piranhas. The feeding frenzy can go on for a long time; all depends on what is being tossed in the water. When all is exhausted, there is nothing left but a bad after taste. A taste though that can easily resurface when another morsel has been cast in the water. And with rumours come judgements. Oh how quick we are to throw in our two cents, but what are those two cents worth? Nada. The problem is, the individual who is the centre of the rumour has to find a way to deal with it. Some let it wash over them like a water off a duck's back. Others though can be so traumatized and ...well we've seen too often what happens next.

So I urge you, next time someone comes to you and says 'rumour has it...' think of this...

"People who spread rumours are like walking infections. The lying words from their mouths spread like disease from person to person. The only way to stop the disease is to keep your mouth shut." Joyce Hansen

"Rumours are hearsay; they are told, believed, and passed on not because of the weight of evidence but because of the expectations by tellers that they are true in the first place." Erich Goode & Nachman Ben-Yehuda

"A plausible rumour seems a lot more believable than the truth itself." Kobo Abe

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