Within the past three months of this Spring semester of my sophomore year at college, there have been numerous rumors about me circulating around the student body. This piece isn't to address and dismiss the rumors, since, quite frankly, the people who started and passed along these false stories are bored people who aren't worthy of my energy. Rather, I wish to dissect the making and spreading of nasty gossip, which may have a significant impact on those being slandered.
It's human nature to gossip; it's hard to find somebody, especially in a social environment such as college, who has never talked about somebody. However, speaking amongst your close friends (and family members) who are known to be trustworthy is completely different than talking about somebody in a negative, slanderous way to anyone who happens to have ears, especially if you don't know them well.
A girl is at a party with her friends. When she grows tired, she tries to find someone else who wants to leave the party to accompany her on the dangerous trek back to campus since her friends don't want to leave yet. She's seen leaving with one of her guy friends. As the two of them make their way back to their dorms, numerous people spot the two of them walking back to campus together. It's something as simple as this that can spark gossip.
A huge aspect of rumors, and probably the most painful part about them, is their lack of validity. People can't just assume that two people walking back to their dorm together means that they're hooking up. Especially when one of them is in a relationship, it's disgusting for a rumor to be made about them "cheating on her boyfriend". It's alarming that some people feel that they have the right to try staining people's reputations and relationships. The fact that rumors can spread to other countries in such a short period of time is scary, too.
The past few months have made me wonder, what is at the heart of these rumors? It's shocking to see that jealous people feel the need to try and bring down another person to make them feel better about themselves. It's just as sad and, honestly, pretty pathetic that some people are so bored with their lives that they have to rely on fake stories about other people to feel relevant. Furthermore, who does the rumor really revolve around? Of course, the person involved in the story is going to be seen in a negative light. Yet, I believe that rumors actually revolve around the people who listen to them and repeat it, spreading the invalidity and making the rumor grow.
To give a real example, I'll explain the most harmless of the recent rumors about me. I was walking down a hallway as I was speaking to my mother on my phone. I joked with her, "Listen: if they slap me, I sue them". It was such a truly insignificant conversation that I can't even remember who or what I was referring to. Yet, hours later, my friend texted me that a guy who heard me wrote about it in a group chat he has with his boys: "Teylor Veliotis was talking about suing somebody because they slapped her". My friend then heard about this infamous catfight because she knows one of the guys in that group chat.
This is how such stupid, nonsensical rumors start: the telephone game mixed with a lack of privacy. First of all, whether I'm speaking on the phone in the middle of a crowded room or in my dorm room all by myself, it's rude to listen in on a private conversation. What makes matters even worse is to repeat private information to other people. The skewing of private information takes the rumor from bad to worse. The more and more people hear and repeat the story, the more likely it'll turn into something different altogether--it's essentially the elementary school telephone game on steroids.
This is a cautionary tale--not about how an innocent act can be turned into a dirty exploit, but rather about how it degrades the person inventing and spreading the stories. If you create and repeat filthy gossip, this is what you put out into the world. You can do better than that. For some people, malicious slander can snowball and truly devastate someone. I'm blessed that my close friends and people who really matter in my life really know my true character, so I choose not to let gossip tear me down. As we are constantly reminded, life is so precious, so why would you spend your breath and energy on spreading lies and ugliness?
P.S. If you're feeling offended by this article, maybe you're one of those people spreading negativity. Just a thought.