Columnists,Izmi Carrim,Top Story l by Izmi Carrim l 5 Oct 2020     - 15

Rumors: A Bane in Society


As human beings we find it impossible to not be involved or to at least participate in gossip. It really doesn’t matter whether if it’s through venting with colleagues at work about this year’s bonus being less than the year before, or at home whining to your wife about how no overtime pay has really lowered your enthusiasm to give your best at work anymore. Thanks to communication tools such as video conferencing and texting through various forms of social media ,the spread of gossip  is no longer limited to any medium as well. But what if rumours and gossip aren’t as harmless as most of us perceive them to be, especially when even the most aware or “woke” amongst us find it difficult to distinguish and identify what is false and what is true.

But what is a Rumour exactly?

A simple definition would be any topic or subject matter that has rapidly spread despite lacking any credible evidence to prove it from its sources, if there are any at all! And the act of helping it spread is called gossip. For more of a guideline however, I suggest looking into the four qualities that have been attributed to a typical rumour by social psychologists Nicholas Di Fonzo and Prashant Bordia:

  1. Unlike opinions, rumours are not open for discussion and dialogue, rather they act as statements/claims and are informative in nature.
  2. As previously mentioned rumours spread and often like wildfire, it doesn’t count as one if you believe the earth is flat and keep it yourself.
  3. If the subject of interest is verified and confirmed then it cannot be a rumour, it must remain unproven.
  4. Rumours often grow in situations of uncertainty to give a sense of comfort and hence are instrumentally relevant.

Not all rumours are bad however and may even seem positive, like when you tell your friend that his crush is definitely into him just to cheer him up from the bad day he’s been having.

Is it really that bad?

When trying to understand how seriously damaging gossip is, I personally think it’s really beneficial for us to consider why gossip exists in certain environments in the first place, and why some people are so eager to partake and contribute to it. If we look into the previously mentioned characteristics of rumours it usually stems from two reasons:

  1. Uncertainty: research has shown that spreading rumours is an attempt in reducing the anxiety in coming to terms with situations that cause confusion and are ambiguous.
  2. A poor self-image: in order to raise their self-esteem, the spreading of rumours helps create the illusion of being informative and important, as long as they follow the previously stated traits of a rumour.

So, what can you do about it?

For starters, it’s best to ignore and not play a part in a rumour you may heard or read, as rumours only spread if it has an audience to thrive off of. If a rumour has got your emotions stirred into a frenzy for e.g. a stupid WhatsApp link about a bank/business being involved in fraudulent activities, it’s best to check multiple sources on the same subject with a calm mind and a cautious eye on the integrity of those sources. Finally, its best to follow the old adage “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Izmi Carrim

From Credit Analyst to Customer Care Coordinator, and now a Content writer. Izmi’s main focus is now on bringing to light topics he believes that help the human race, himself included, in guiding them a step further towards being a better version of themselves than the day before.

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