Matt - Richmond, Virginia
Entered on September 15, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: community
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I believe in a specific kind of communication. I believe in gossip. With many genres of hearsay, I choose between what to take to heart and what never to repeat again. The positive and interesting words spoken about others that are relayed back to me, I can only hope are true. As for the vastly inappropriate rumors that are whispered into my ear, I pray all the more for its validity. Rumors can be passed with venom to be interpreted as vicious lies or the honest truth depending on whose mouth it came from. Because it varies on who told whom what, gossip can be found in any conversation.

It may seem superficial. Its gossip, it is. The fundamental watering hole communication carries with it enormous influence that is often abused. Entire communities are built upon gossip. High schools run on rumors. My senior year, I got in trouble on a Saturday. During Monday’s lunch, my best friend (someone who I told the whole truth) repeated to me she had heard I was going to jail, “Is it true?”

One cannot deny the effect gossip has on other people. Gossip is, and always will be a powerful thing. It creates leaders, followers and, without fail, enemies. Its undetectable, unseen and therefore can strike without warning. Words that can make reputations or break dreams become a valid opponent no matter if you believe or not. But if you chose to believe and repeat know this: whoever gossips to you, gossips of you. Gossiping holds the potential to become a mind-bending, friendship ruining vice, as far too many people (including myself) find out first hand. Unexpectedly, it can be used for good, for example the socially awkward dork in your dorm may become a womanizing player if the correct “story” is overheard. Wars and elections can and have been won with the right rumors. Trends can be started with fervor or stopped dead in its tracks by mentioning a stylish person’s likes and dislikes. Gossiping as a pastime is detrimental. But doing it in small doses and in specific situations can be incredibly helpful in identifying with friends and colleagues.

The rumor mill is always in motion. It can begin a livelihood of a doctor, with rave reviews for their knack with children. Or the desire for gossip can create a monster in paparazzi-form, and chase a princess to her death. Whether serious or inane consequences, it’s a force that takes on a life of its own. Oscar Wilde put it the simplest and the best when he said, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”