Effects of Rumors and Gossip March 2009 Verdadera is a publication created by and for Monta Vista teens for the purpose of instigating communication concerning the “real world” of high school within the community. Each month, an issue on a topic relevant to the lives of our students is sent home for reading by parents and students alike. We encourage you to discuss and explore the issues and stories, as the publication aims not only to offer an outlet for expression but to improve our lives. Keep in mind that the emotions that flow through the text and the feelings behind the words could be those of your child, your classmate, or your best friend. While we do not edit submissions, we aim to publish personal experiences, not opinion articles. Please utilize all the resources present in the publication. Please feel free to email comments and feedback. The Verdadera staff thanks you for your interest and support. This issue includes stories about how gossip and rumors have affected students, and their experiences regarding this topic.
Student Submissions Recently, my friend asked me a little too suspicious ly if I was doing okay. When I told her I was totally fine, she looked really relieved. I asked her why she was acting so weird, and she said she had heard something about me. I begged her to tell me, but she didn't want to because she knew it would upset me. Finally, she told me she had heard that random peo ple from 08 said I was caught drunk at a school function and got kicked off all groups and organiza tions at school that I was involved in and that I was in a lot of trouble. At first, I was confused because I talked to that person once or twice in my life. Then, I was really hurt because I would never do that, and everyone knows it. I would never sacrifice all of my hard work for that. The more I looked into it the more I found out that it had spread really far. Ran dom 08 graduates were talking about it, and I have not talked to them since last school year. My friend comforted me and told me not to worry about it, but I was still hurt that so many people would spread something like that about me even though they knew it would not be true.
A rumor without a leg to stand on will get around some other way. ~John Tudor I never really paid attention to rumors and gossip. I guess it was something that we always heard about but most of my friends and I would brush it off as if it was nothing and continue to go on with our day. When I came to high school two years ago, I didn’t realize how much gossip could really affect someone’s life and to me, it seemed really stupid. How could people base their friendships and other relationships on things they weren’t even sure were true? So just because you heard that your best friend did this and this with so and so, that’s enough to end a friendship? I told myself that I would never get involved in spreading rumors or anything silly like that because it just made life so much less complicated. It worked for a couple months I can proudly say I never spread any rumor I heard. Everything was going so well and I was defying the stereotype that you have to be in on all the rumors and gossip to survive in high school. Then in the middle of my sophomore year, everything changed. I
continued to stop rumors from being passed on if they reached me, but all of a sudden, nobody was telling me gossip anymore. I shrugged it off and thought that maybe everyone had finally come to the same conclusion that I had that gossip was stupid. It was actually quite the opposite, though. Turns out that the rumors had never stopped, but that they just had found a new person to center around: me. I’m pretty sure none of them were actually true and I really don’t know why people would have wanted to start rumors about me, but all of a sudden my friends just weren’t hanging out with me and because I was so determined to take the high road, I never bothered to ask what the rumors about me were. This prevented me from being able to address them, but I thought I was doing the right thing in the scheme of things. I was wrong. I lost at least five close friends that year and I don’t even know why because I refuse to stoop to that level, but it frustrates me to think that I tried to be mature in a place and time when we are supposed to be growing into young adults, but I still suffered the consequences of people who chose to just let themselves fall into the stereotype of letting unproven facts ruin relationships.
Rumor travels faster, but it don't stay put as long as truth. ~Will Rogers
"OHMYGOD, did you hear that she had sex with him?!!?!" + "OH really?! I KNEW IT! I BET THEY [insert action here]!!" = a new rumor. Monta Vista a campus with so many students’ rumors and gossip is just as unavoidable as a day with absolutely no homework. Starting out here as a freshman I was not ready for any gossip or rumors or drama about me. Even as a current junior I don't know how to handle it. I wish I can say that I don't care about the things I hear that other girls have said about me, but I can't. It was bearable freshman year, and things got not so good to bad sophomore year and now as a junior, it's even worse. Let's start with sophomore year. Over the summer before sophomore year, I got really close with this guy who will be named Kevin. Kevin was an ex boyfriend of a close friend, and when things started, I had told her that I didn't want things with me and Kevin to get in between our friendship. She told me that she was fine with it, and is glad that Kevin was finally over her. So I took her word for it, and it only took a few weeks possibly even days, for me to find out the things she had said about me behind my
back. She said things like how Kevin is just using me as a replacement for her, and that I was being really stupid. She even told Kevin to choose her over me, at times made me feel like I was being the third wheel. Even after that I tried my best to not start anything with her because I didn't want us to be one of those girls that kill each other over a boy. But as the year progressed, I slowly realized that I didn't want a "friend" like her and that I was forcing myself to be okay with her. Finally one day I knew what I wanted, and even though it was not the nicest thing to do, I straight up told her, "Stop talking crap about me, I don't like it. I know you do, so let’s not pretend anymore, I'm sick of your bull****" That was how things ended, we never spoke another word to each other, and seeing each other around became awkward. I do not regret this, but there were times where I wondered how things would have turned out if she didn't gossip and I didn’t explode on her. A few months later, I became friends with this guy, who I will call Charlie. Charlie and I had 3 or 4 classes together and a mutual friend. We soon began talking and really getting along. There were always remarks and comments on how we should going out and stuff, but the thing is that we were both in relationships at the time. So obviously we never thought things between us would happen, we were just really chill. By the end of sophomore year both of our relationships ended and the expected happened. But before anything even happened, his exgirlfriend thought that we had began a long time ago and started telling all that we had drunk sex in my house. When I first heard this, I was shocked, and really mad. Yeah he has been to my house, but the drunk sex scandal was way too far. Soon everybody thought I was the villain and that they felt sorry for Charlie's ex. And considering my situation with all the already rumors from before, I don't blame everybody else for believing the rumor, but it was so stupid, and so out there I couldn't help it but be upset. Finally things died down, but the thought was still in everybody's head as junior year began. Right now, things with me and Charlie aren't so great, and I've lost a number of friends due to the rumors and trash talk from the other two girls. I don’t though, regret anything, because my experiences helped me realize who my real friends are. I didn’t lose anything, but instead they just lost a good friend. I'm glad that I've tried to fix things with both of them, and if they rather gossip and not accept it, they're the assholes not me. I just try my best to not gossip and spread rumors because I know how much mean words can hurt. I'm not perfect because there are times where I get caught up and my mouth runs before my brain can think, but I
think as each day passes, I am improving to be less gossipy. Maybe I should thank them for making me a better person. "The only time people dislike gossip is when you gossip about them." ~Will Rogers
Is it weird to say that gossip actually helped me? I was pretty much in denial of my eating disorder all through middle school. I was a master of making people believe I was eating enough when I knew I wasn’t. My mom caught on to it for a little while but I managed to even convince her that I was okay. As a freshman in high school, I was having a hard enough time just adjusting to the new atmosphere so it was extra stressful and I felt my condition worsen. I was really irritated all the time and my friends noticed, but nobody said anything to me because they knew I would deny it. A few weeks into the school year, I heard what I thought was really weird people were saying that there were rumors going on about me and my eating disorder. I was so confused because I thought rumors only circulated about boyfriends and girlfriends and all that stuff. Either way, I was really nervous and hurt because all of a sudden my personal life was being discussed in a school I barely knew. Obviously I could deny it since it was just a rumor, but I knew that it was making my friends feel more and more comfortable to come and confront me which is the last thing I wanted. The rumors kept going and I just didn’t say anything. I denied it to my friends but never actively tried to show them I was okay probably because now I realize that I wasn’t and that may have been my way of trying to get someone to notice it. After about three months, I couldn’t take it anymore but my pride was too much to tell my friends. So instead I went home and wrote a note to my mom. Kind of cowardly, I know, but I couldn’t bear to face her and tell her. She was so freaked out but so happy that I told her and when she asked me why I had told her now, I couldn’t really come up with an answer. But I guess I was so consumed with wanting to start high school off right and be liked that when people actually started talking about my possible disorder as something that wasn’t exactly “cool” I realized I didn’t want to be known as that girl. I’m still recovering from my anorexia I have a food therapist and I meet with a regular therapist at least once a week, if not more. It’s hard, but I guess it is a pretty rare case of something that is normally really vicious actually helping me.
Show me someone who never gossips and I'll show you someone who isn't interested in people. ~Barbara Walters
Gossip in general is a bad thing to me. I certainly do not want to be gossiped about. It seems that all the gossip that goes around is exaggerated greatly, be it good or bad gossip. Therefore, people always seems like they're much worse and much better than they really are. Of course no one would want to be portrayed worse than they actually are; however, I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm greater than I actually am either. I see gossip as being very hurtful either. Most gossip consists of private matters that people generally don't want known, for example GPA or SAT score. "Reality is not the origin of a rumor; it is more likely to be a product of the rumor.” ~JeanNoel Kapferer Whenever I hear gossip, it’s very hard for me to be objective about that person anymore. I always think back to the gossip I heard about them rather than what I should be thinking about them. Sometimes I even find people annoying if I hear disdaining gossip about them. I think everyone would get along better if people kept their mouths shut.
The art of spreading rumors may be compared to the art of pinmaking. There is usually some truth, which I call the wire; as this passes from hand to hand, one gives it a polish, another a point, others make and put on the head, and at last the pin is completed. ~John Newton
Gossip seems to be the most important thing in everybody’s life. Who’s wearing what, how that girl’s outfit doesn’t match, and how awkward that one couple always looks. When put into awkward one on one situation, people seem to launch into attacking other people, and start talking about others, instead of trying to think of things to say about themselves. I’ve noticed that amongst my “friends” [the people who happen to stand in the same area I do at brunch and lunch] whenever they are with somebody they aren’t very comfortable with, they
just start talking about other people’s lives. I guess that way they can relate, agree, criticize, judge, and somehow connect on some shallow level. But what’s the point? To talk so much shit about other people just so you can have 2 minutes of “connection” with somebody? Is it really worth it? I’m not saying I haven’t done it, or that because of what I’m saying people will never do it again, but what I am saying is that gossip is a very hurtful tool that people seem to not want to put down. If it hurts so much, why do people do it? Who knows, but after talking about people, I always feel so rude, because I disrespected them. In fact, there was one time when the person we were talking about was right behind me the whole time. I have never felt more awful in my entire life. Knowing that they had probably heard every terrible word I had just said about that made my heart drop to the ground with a thud. I didn’t know what to say, or do. The person just walked away and my friend went on as if nothing were wrong. I excused myself from the conversation and decided it was time to go. The whole way home I couldn’t stop thinking about how hurt they must feel, and how if I could take back what I said, I would. It may not seem like a big deal, but I’ve never been able to forget that moment where I felt like such a terrible person, and friend. I know that sometimes I still get caught up in gossiping about others, but now I try and stop myself and think, how would I feel if I were the person being talked about? Anyways, I guess what I’m saying is I wish people[including myself] would just think before they speak, because it’s saving someone a great deal of hurt.
Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead. ~Benjamin Franklin I’ve always been told gossiping was bad, but I never really thought it could actually hurt me or anyone around me. A few months ago I met this really nice girl named Jessie. She was funny, kind, and really friendly. As the weeks went by, I started hearing bad things said about her. “She goes through guys faster then she can change her socks” I heard once. I was shocked to hear this; here I was stuck in the middle of a mine field. I couldn’t say anything to Jessie and risk an all out breakdown, and I couldn’t stop the gossip from spreading like a pandemic. Now, be cause of this gossip, a guy Jessie really likes (here I am gossiping in the middle of denouncing gossiping) won’t go out with her because he thinks she is a hooch. Jessie eventually found out she had a reputa
tion and was devastated. She also blamed me for not telling her and allowing the gossip to continue. I see now that I should have stuck up for her in the begin ning. I deeply regret that I didn’t, and I can only hope that all the destruction this one rumor caused will blow over soon. “The best ammunition against lies is the truth; there is no ammunition against gossip. It is like a fog and the clear wind blows it away and the sun burns it off.” ~Ernest Hemingway Gossip. Gosh. That word makes me mad. Why do people care so much about other people? I mean like seriously, go watch gossip girl or w/e, but don’t make school your own version of it. How often I see people's lives ruined by gossip. It’s just plain stupid. If only everybody would just keep their head down and go through high school and college and gossip as much as they want after that, that would be totally great. I realize that people need SOMETHING inter esting to do in school and need some action in their lives, and an SAT book probably doesn’t scream "oh my gawd. He did not just jump of the building with her." But would it your life that much worse if you didn’t discuss with suzy what sally did at seven, six Saturdays ago? I’m sure sally wouldn't appreciate that at all...not only that but you'll probably exagger ate while discussing with suzy, making what was once "sally was talking with bob" to "sally and bob were hurling their precalc and physics honors text books at each other across the rally court and they injured seven people during the fight". Maybe I'm just a tad bit nerdy and a tad bit too focused on school, but at least my happiness does not depend on my knowledge of sally, suzy, or bob's affairs. In freshmen year it wasn’t so bad I guess. I was more worried about some intimidating senior throwing me off of the Bbuilding while ripping up my bio text book. But in sophomore year, it seems that people have nothing else to do. All I hear as people talking about is other people. Junior year probably isn't that way since all people can gossip about is the size of their SAT books and the length of their APUSH es says, and seniors spend all their time talking about which college they applied… Next year will probably be a lot different and who knows? I might prefer the gossip to the SAT/APUSH/AP Physics discussions, but right now, here, I would give anything to make all the gossip and rumors go away. Seriously people, go try out for gossip girl if you want to do that kind of stuff. Don't waste your time at a place like Monta vista.
He's gone, and who knows how may he report Thy words by adding fuel to the flame? ~John Milton
People used to think I was a pothead, even though I did not smoke very often. The people I hung out with smoked a lot, but I wasn’t really into that. I thought it was kind of unfair that everyone would just assume that because it is not like it determined who I was or what kind of person I am. I decided to stop smoking altogether. Now people think I’m a drunk because they heard about a couple of parties that I got really drunk at. I don’t even drink very much, but people all gossip about this type of thing, so it spread and everyone thinks I am an alcoholic now. It has stopped bothering me because if people I do not even know want to talk about me they can go enjoy themselves. It is ridiculous, but I don’t care.
"What some invent, the rest enlarge." ~Jonathan Swift I haven't really been negatively impacted by gossip or rumor. In fact, at some level, I think it makes people feel a little better, if they partake in gossip about someone else. My friends and I have frequent shittalks about other people. And sometimes, I'll gossip with "Friend" A just for fun, and then go talk crap about her with Friend B. And to me, I usually try to support somebody if I feel that they are actual ly a good person and whatever gossip and rumors I am hearing are definitely not true. But it's really easy to believe what other people say when you yourself have the slightest inkling that something's iffy with this person, or especially when this person just rubs you the wrong way. Back to "Friend" A and Friend B. Pretty much, again, this gossip busi ness turns into venting about people, which usually turns back into gossip again. And I'm guessing that sometimes this venting fuels more gossip especially if I'm venting to untrustworthy people who just love to f***k with other people's lives and spread rumors about them (yes, mistake, I know, but now and then I'm still the bad person in feeling that this rumor spreading just might be justified, and just "acciden tally" letting it slip in front of the evil blabbermouth). So, basically, this gossiping makes me feel so great. I mean, not as a person really, but
just to let go of things, or to forget about my own problems, or to just get back at someone. Not the best of reasons, but that's what gossiping does for me. And celebrity gossip and rumors? People, Us Weekly, Star, Vogue, anything and everything, it's kind of therapeutic. Whenever I volunteer at the hospital, these magazines are the most in demand, and I'm always searching for more of them. I think it's because it's just plain fun to gasp over Lindsey's skanky outfit ("What was she thinking??") or coo over the latest addition to What'sherface's baby collection, or even add to the hurricane of rumors about Soandso's latest party. It's just kind of a drug. “I don't at all like knowing what people say of me behind my back. It makes me far too conceited.” ~Oscar Wilde
I don’t think I’ve ever really felt the effects of gos sip/rumor. Maybe that’s why I do it. Because I don’t know what it’s like to be hurt by someone bitching about me, so I think it’s okay to do it. Maybe it’s be cause I’m kind of an insecure person, and I admit that. And I know and realize that if word gets around, it could really hurt someone. Yet in the mo ment, it seems like so much fun to gossip and talk about people behind their backs. Throughout my years of high school, I haven’t heard of anyone that has been hurt by mean words I said about them. Be cause it’s not like people go around saying that I called Sarah a fugly whore and I think she should shave her sideburns and get rid of her bad case of bacne. And since people have never been hurt by my ugly words, I still talk shit about them. Really, I have no reason to say bad stuff about peo ple, but I have no reason not to. I’ve actually never heard people talk shit about me. And I don’t really know why, since I’m a pretty b*tchy person. I don’t know where I’m going with this rambling. I guess I’m just saying that no matter how many people tell me that gossiping and spreading rumors about peo ple is hurtful, I won’t really STOP until I learn the hard way. Until I have a reason NOT to do it. Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobaccopipes of those who diffuse it; it proves noth ing but the bad taste of the smoker. ~George Eliot So basically, lemme warn you first: this is going to sound like it’s from “All my children” or some God
awful soap opera. So if you’re not into that shit, just bear with me. I went to this summer camp where there were basi cally just a bunches of mean b*tches, as dumb as the sluts from Mean girls, in my cabin. And I’m not just holding a grudge because they talked shit about me. I mean there was this girl that thought Taiwan was a f***ing city!! Come on, now. But that’s beside the point. Anyway, once I was in my cabin and the lights were all off, and I was just sitting there, chatting it up with one of my mates. We were too lazy to turn on the lights because it was still kind of light out. Then that b*tchy girl walks in, sees us, and gives us this deer inheadlights sort of look. She shouts, “Jesus Christ!” and runs away. So the next day, I hear people looking at me like I’m the devil and they’re whispering and giggling. And I’m just like WHAT THE F**K IS GOING ON?! And then good ol’ Suzy asks me whether it’s really true that I’m a lesbian and whether I “got it on” with Lucy. So I’m not gonna get into a lot of painful detail about the bullshit people made up after they heard I was a lesbian. Long story short, that f***ing rumor ruined what was supposed to be a relaxing week at camp, which btw I paid hella mullah for. So now whenever I hear a rumor, I’m reminded of that geo graphicallydeclined stupid skank and I tell people to shut the f**k up because 1. it’s hurtful and 2. they’re being a pain in the ass. If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees. ~ Kahlil Gibran Rumors Few years back, I moved into a suburban city with a decent neighborhood. There were parks near by, and the kids playing about; it was nice place to settle into. I say, “a nice place", because I feared be ing the new kid. With all the new people around, I was afraid if I don't make the right move, I would be shunned. Luckily, the kids at my new school were nice to me; asked me lots of questions to let me feel comfortable and part of the group. It truly was nice, for awhile. There was this girl (I'll keep the name confidential for my sake), and my friends told me she liked me. To be honest I didn't like her, but I had no intention to be mean to her. However, when I re jected her, I don't think she took it very well. Thus,
she started a rumor. She disguised herself, and leaked out information pretending as me. I denied it, and told my friends that wasn't me. However, no one listened to me. All my friends, my social life, my life, it was all ruined. I was by myself the entire 8th grade year, and when I graduated my family decided to move to Cupertino. They simply decided I will be completely ruined if I stayed here. On the brightside, Cupertino has given my life back to me. The neigh borhood here is lively and active, and the school gives me the challenge I need. Also, the friends are loyal and we have bonds that I have never felt be fore. I am happy now, and my past is all but a mem ory. For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn? ~Jane Austen Drama, Drama, Drama. So much drama. That is how it all begins. A simple rumor, something so easy to spill, yet so sinister. Gossip, something that is such a large part of high school, that there is even a show about it. How pathetic is it that lives can be ruined and confidence can be torn because of something that someone just feels like making up and then spreading it around campus? No one has the right to do that. Yet even though we all know it is so wrong and evil, we all amount to it at some point in our lives. Whether it is us doing the talking, the making up, or even just listening and believing the person, we all get involved in rumors or gossip at some point in our lives, especially in high school. In my senior year, I have realized that all of it is pointless; all the gossip is completely irrelevant. As I look back on my high school experience, I realize that I was once a “gossip girl” myself. I almost looked for drama, because it was so exciting. It was always something new and was somehow thrilling to pick and choose who I was going to tell. I know that is horrible to say, but the point of this is to be truthful. I myself have��never made up a rumor, but I have definitely spread ones that I have heard, especially in my earlier years of high school. But as a senior, I have realized that it is all so stupid and I have really made an effort this year to push that type of thing out of my life because it really has a strong affect on the victims, and I guess I never realized that until it started to affect me. As a junior there was a small rumor that was spread about me, and someone that I know asked me to confirm it. It was not a big deal, but it was something that I did not want people to know about me. Someone had taken my boyfriend’s cell phone and read the text messages in his phone
that were from me. This person took what I said and twisted it completely out of proportion and started telling people what he “read”. It then got passed around to one of my friends and when she told me about it, I was more mad that it was incorrect than I was that it was being spread around. The fact was that it was my life, and whatever I had said was my business, not theirs. This is the first time I had become a victim of gossip and rumors, and it was the first time in my life when I realized how easily it could just tear someone apart. Even though my case wasn’t extreme at all and quickly got fixed, I realized that I had gotten a taste of my own medicine. What I was contributing to, was essentially backfiring. Whenever I hear a rumor about one of my friends, I will always tell them, because they deserve the right to know that shit is being spread about them. The point that I am trying to get across here is that people don’t realize how strong a simple lie is until it affects them personally. Gossip is the art of saying nothing in a way that leaves practically nothing unsaid. ~Walter Winchell Rumors, strangely, have affected me not in a negative way, though not in a positive way. Rather, it’s been a rather curious way, or maybe it’s because I don’t really see it as that big of a deal. One day, my friend supposedly told people that I “love clam chowder like no other, love in more than the sun, more than the earth, more than myself.” Strangely, he added a bit of a contrast by saying that “I loathe chicken noodle more than eating dirt, more than the most despicable villain, more than the absolute nadir of hell.” Feeling a mixture of curiosity and indifference, I let that go. Pretty soon, people in my classes asked with increasing frequency some variation of “WOAH?! Are you the clam chowder girl?” or “dude! Can you cook for me some clam chowder?” It really got awkward when this guy, who I think is a freshman, barely 5 feet tall, asked if I was really the clam chowder girl. I just replied with “I like chicken.” There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true. ~Winston Churchill Gossip has always been something that haunted me when I was a freshman. I would tell a friend who my crush was, and then the chain reaction starts, making my secret known to clique after clique and eventually reaching to the crush herself. Knowing
that, I was constantly worried that she might hate me or think I am shallow for not fully knowing her. I also worried what other people may think things like "omg this guy does not deserve girl's name at all, tell him to back off”. Then I get this feeling that I am being talked about all the time and it was not a good feeling. Once, I was sorted into a group project with her and I was so distracted by my worries that my ears turned all red around her, it was very very embarrassing. I couldn't talk to her at all. After a period of time, I wanted to get over it once and for all. I wanted to either really get to know her or forget about her. Driven by a sudden impulse, I asked her out one day. I can never forget that day. My friend gave me a teddy bear to give her and we waited afterschool in front of her classroom. Having second thoughts, I tried to escape and run away, but it was too late as my friends used force to make my decision stand firm. 30 minutes after school and the ultimate moment of either a conclusion or a new beginning came. With a trembling voice, I asked the question, with eight guys watching me do it. The result was obviously a rejection. I became speechless for awhile and ran away, not knowing what my crush or any of the eight guys were thinking. I suffered from this experience for weeks. But I soon realized that I was shallow for liking a girl this much based on physical beauty and never really on personality. I apologized to her one day for acting the way I did and she accepted it. However, things got completely awkward and I lost my chance to ever truly become my crush's friend. I know now, without a doubt, that I would probably never like a girl again purely based on her looks. I want to get a relationship only if I can truly reveal my full self to that special someone and be happy around her. I might have learned a lesson from this, but gossip can really hurt someone's self esteem, love chances, and reputation. "The biggest liar in the world is They Say. ~Dou glas Malloch They said that Mr. Metheany was scary. They said that he dominated Monta Vista students, was mean and unfair, and did not care for students. Of course I believed it. I didn't even know the guy except that he was big and sure, kind of scary if you believed what they said. When it came time to fill out my college application forms, write a dozen essays and three times as many short answer questions, and fill out
sheets and sheets of personal information, I somewhere along the line ended up heading over to the office to get my college administration letters of rec done and taken care of. I signed the sheet, filled out where I would go to college, when Mrs. Lim asked me, “so, who do you want to write your letter of rec?” I didn't know who did them, but asked what my choices where. “Well,” she said, “there is your Guidance Counselor, who is pretty backed up right now, or you can have Mr. Metheany write it.” “Can you please file me under his papers then?” Sure enough, it only took me one or two days before I was hustled into Mr. Metheany's office, and I was face to face with the man himself. I was nervous before hand, knowing that not only was I about to be grilled interviewstyle for all of my strengths and weaknesses, but that I was in front of a person which gossip put in a bad light. However, when I can in he greeted me warmly, and welcomed me to sit down. I noticed several pictures of his children, and possible grandchildren, and numerous trinkets of his life neatly placed around his office. He directed my attention to a frame in the corner, where the names of three people were kept forever safe. He said something like this, “These are people who changed me forever, and I continue to live by what they did and how they affected me.” The interview went well, and I went out will a profound impression that everything people say about Mr. Metheany is wrong. He is an amazing guy. Smart, kind, though stern and understanding of the value of hard work. I can only hope that his image changes for the better, and that no matter what, he keeps on doing the good job he has been doing, whatever the rest of the kids here at Monta Vista say, because most of them don't even know what they are talking about anyway. Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules. ~Douglas Adams Monta Vista is a huge campus, and lunchtime every open space is filled with students milling about, hooked up in their closed circles of friends and talking about anything and everything which comes to mind. We talk about what teacher assigned what ridiculous amount of homework, who stayed up how late, and what person has a crush on
who. My problem is, I suck at it. In my experience, people are better at talking and socializing than I am. It seems that everyone has an uncanny knack for talking about just about anything, and once I enter into the conversation, things just seem to die. I don't know what I do wrong. After a certain amount of phrases, I have no idea what to say or what to turn to. There is an awkward silence, and finally someone says something to save it all. I don't really get the rumor mill, but I do know that I can't keep up with its fast pace. I was once of the last people to hear about the varsity basket ball game, and was confused as heck when people went around campus some years ago carrying spoons with them wherever they went. Gossip is hard, and doesn't make a lot of sense. I guess I talk to convey information, not as much to convey friendship and a sense of unity. I'll need to work on it. Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you. ~Spanish Proverb Gossip here, gossip there, I think it’s everywhere. Rumors and gossip affect so many high school students that many lose selfconfidence. Not too long ago I had a friend and she made some plain dumb choices. She spread fake rumors about herself to get other people’s attention hoping she would feel comfort but the result was the complete opposite. This friend was what I called fairly close for most of my life but when we entered high school she threw our friendship out the door and had told me “sorry I can’t hang out with you because of what are people will say about me.’’ Well I guess she is what I call an acquaintance then I was shocked a friend that I had known for so long would care for how her reputation was rather than being with people who cared for her. I had met many of those people through my school life here at MV it’s really not that hard. You walk through campus maybe knowing lots of people but deep inside you know nobody, you walk by and then they turn their heads to make a nasty remark about the weight you’ve gained or the cloths you wear. In reality many will learn like both and that friend have, the rumors that are spread about someone hurts deep inside even though they
might not show it. It affects us all, we’re all victims of nasty gossip. It’s not that I’m saying I don’t participate in them, it’s just there are a limit to everything and some things that are said cross the line. The other day I heard a disturbing rumor about a friend of mine being pregnant and I was hearing this from the girl who had spread it. I didn’t think it was very funny but I just showed no emotion as that girl went on, all my emotion was kept inside and the respect I once had for that person skyrocketed down. I am not a fan of gossip, I’ve hurt too many people with my nasty remarks and I guess it’s my turn to feel their pain. Like JT said “what comes around goes around.” I truly feel sorry for those that I’ve hurt because now whats said of me hurts inside too. "History is merely gossip. But scandal is gossip made tedious by morality." ~Oscar Wilde I once had a relationship with someone that seemed to mean everything to me but that important relationship died. It was in the seventh grade when I met this boy; he was cute, smart and athletic. In other words he was supposed to be the perfect boyfriend but my opinion slowly died away after I discovered his weakness for gossip and what others thought. So here’s a little background. I met this boy and it was love at first sight as I recall and he told me it was the same, that he liked me. Soon as other people heard we had a “thing,” the news spread faster than I had expected until it got too much for the both of us. But even though other
people said stuff about us, I still had a weakness for him. About after a month of meeting him he told me that he didn’t like me anymore and even more strangely he asked me out a week after that. Woah that was so weird, but I liked him and I guess it was finally working out. Our whole relationship had been made through other people talking about us and it ended that way too. Every day in class I would hear “OMG you’re dating him? Isn’t he a little too short for you?” or other times it would be “really you’re going out with him? Why?” Those questions drove me insane and even worse, people would tell me oh he doesn’t like you, he’s going to break up with today. I was in constantly insecure due to this and he did eventually break up with me. His reason was “my friends don’t like you and there are too many rumors about us. It needs to END” Those words have stuck with me forever. I was in shock that others could’ve decided how our relationship turned out, not us. I also tried to get back at him by spreading false rumors about him, eventually I discovered rumors can hurt more than anyone expects. Now after almost 4 years, my ex and I are not really friends, only if I hadn’t done what I knew in the first place was wrong, I wouldn’t be disappointed and have a constant guilt within myself. Rumors never help the situation, they make it worse. We must set up a strong present tense against all ru mors of wrath, past and to come. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
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The Effects of Rumor and Gossip By Laura G. Hastings, LMFT What is Gossip? Gossip is a discussion between two people that concerns a third person who is absent and the conversation includes undertones of judgment or secrecy. Gossip may include criteria such as: It is perceived as a private conversation; individuals exchange information as if it was fact; speaker's body language or tone suggests a moral judgment about the information; the people gossiping compare themselves to the person being gossiped about, usually considering themselves to be superior. Gossip and spreading rumors are actually a form of bullying. As kids grow older, they will use more verbal, less physical ways of bullying. Girls especially will verbally try to align with or malign other girls. To the outsider, these tactics can be subtle. In fact, a study at the University of Miami found that spreading a rumor was considered one way to bully a girl. Why should it be addressed? In both books, The Bullied Girl and Hate Hurts, one can truly see the long term pain of being bullied. Bullying, and gossip, specifically, threatens a student’s basic need for security. As students struggle with issues of rumor and gossip they can have difficulty achieving other basic goals such as happiness, and success in high school. Equally important, several students state that gossip can end important, longstanding relationships/friendships. Why Do People Gossip? There are several explanations for why people engage in gossip. First, “gossip is tempting” and in fact, sometimes so spontaneous that we find ourselves on the receiving end of it very quickly. Some students report it is hard to continue to do the right thing. Individuals who gossip also refer to wanting "to be in the know.” Of course, we hear gossipers admit that it makes them “feel better about their lives to know other people's struggles.” Unfortunately there are some who engage in gossip as a guilty pleasure, and feel like it increases their status. 1
Are there any positive sides to gossip? Students report that gossip sometimes feels like letting off steam and there may be a fine line between sharing and gossip at times. Some sharing may be because people care about an individual. Others may look more closely at issues about themselves that may have some truth and the gossip helps them confront a difficult issue. Researchers report that gossip can help people learn how to behave and how to understand social cues faster and more efficiently than direct observation can. Lastly, there is a sense of mutual trust between the pair gossiping. 3
What if I am a VICTIM of gossip? Girls encourage relationships by exchanging personal information. Teens should be careful about whom they share this information. Ask yourself if this person can be trusted; have they ever disclosed your personal info in the past; do they tend to gossip about others. You can even add, "Ya know, this kind of goes without saying, but this is just between you and me. I really don't want this shared with anyone else. Promise?” Don’t be shy about the request. Try not to laugh or joke during that particular request. You want to convey that keeping your confidence is serious. Once you have done this, your confidante cannot claim they did not know it was secret information. It is also important not to gossip yourself. If there is gossip about you that is very disturbing to you, do tell someone that this is happening to you and ask for help. What if I GOSSIP? If being in the know is important to you, then try to equalize being in the know and 1 Mike Hardcastle, Teen Advice, “How Girls BullyThe Different Ways that Girls Bully Peers,” teenadvice.about.com/od/violencebullying/a/girlbullies.htm, January 2009 2 http://people.howstuffworks.com/gossip.htm 3 http://people.howstuffworks.com/gossip.htm
spreading rumors by thinking what it would be like to be in the position of the other person.” How Should Parents and Teachers Deal Before it is a problem: Parents should broach the subject even if you don't think your children are affected. Discussions before it is a problem are better because emotions are not as involved yet. You can start by discussing how the problem can occur in home, media, schools, and most recently on the Internet. Talk with your children about whether they feel safe and respected in all areasphysical, sports, verbal, Internet. You and your child should find out the school's policy on rumorspreading and gossip; the purpose of it and the consequences. Remember that teens are especially sensitive to hypocrisy so parents definitely should not gossip. Always encourage self respect, self empowerment and empathy for others. Whenever possible share personal stories of triumph, success and overcoming defeat and teach that change can happen. Recognize that many students feel illprepared for the amount of rumor and gossip when they get to high school. Parents should be careful about discussing their children with other parents. (Also see “general communication strategies for parents” section). 4
How Should Parents and Teachers Deal if it is already a problem? First, remember these facts about gossip: 1. Gossip does not usually receive the same consequences as physical bullying 2. “Adults are slower to respond when verbal instead of physical bullying.” 3. “Victims don’t know where to turn.” 4. Gossip is “too often brushed off as cruel but normal interaction.” especially when initiated by girls. Parents need to take appropriate and rational action. If you hear gossip, call them on it. Say, “We don’t gossip. Gossip hurts. We can discuss this more at home.” Listen carefully to their hurt feelings. Do not overreact. Parents should not approach the perpetrator or the parents right away. 6
What are the Warning signs? Warning signs may include: upset, withdrawal, lack of interest, acting out, not wanting to go to school, distractible, poor grades, and missed assignments. Also, pay special attention to how your teen is spending their time on Internet because cyberspace gossip is increasingly becoming a problem, just like cyber bullying. They can be as painful as the traditional kind of bullying and gossip. General Communication Strategies for Parents and Teachers: (From Hate Hurts) Keep communication lines open Treat every question and topic with respect and seriousness Parents should be available without forcing self on teen Learn about their interests Don’t pry 4 Elizabeth HartleyBrewer, Scholastic, “Surviving the Rumor Mill”, October 2007, www. Scholastic.com, January 2009 5 Larosa, C. S. & Bettmann, E. H. The AntiDefamation League’s Hate Hurts How Children Learn and Unlearn Prejudice (New York: Scholastic, 2000)
6 http://people.howstuffworks.com/gossip.htm 7 Caryl Stern Larosa and Ellen Hofheimer Bettmann, The AntiDefamation League’s Hate Hurts How Children Learn and Unlearn Prejudice (New York:Scholastic, 2000)
Get to know their friends and the parents Model good behavior Live good values When teens ask a question, they are not looking for direct answers but guidance to arrive at their own answer. They want tools and reassurance. Laura G. Hastings is a licensed Marriage Family Therapist who has been working with youth, couples and families for over 10 years. She knew in college that she was committed to becoming a psychotherapist. At 31 she was licensed with her own practice. For many years she held a workshop entitled, "I Don't Need Counseling, I Just Want to Talk to Someone." Laura was passionate about spreading the word that counseling can be a place for individuals of any age, gender or ethnicity to speak freely and have a listening ear. Currently, she is also volunteering at an elementary school in an anti bully program. Her private practice focuses on individuals struggling with transitions or depression. Her office is in Saratoga and she can be reached at 6505338221.
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES The AntiDefamation League’s Hate Hurts How Children Learn and Unlearn Prejudice By Caryl Stern Larosa and Ellen Hofheimer Bettmann An easy to read book filled in anecdotes and lessons on the effects of prejudice and stereotyping Letters to a Bullied Girl Messages of Healing and Hope By Olivia Gardner A compilation of the thousands of letters a bullied girl received from people who have bullied and people who have been bullied, and how it has affected their lives. Schools Where Everyone Belongs, by Stan & Julia Davis Presents skills and practices for dealing with rumors and schoolrelated social problems. Also contains information for schools and administrative staff. Teen Advice: http://teenadvice.about.com Advice website for teens How Stuff Works
http://people.howstuffworks.com/gossip1.htm A detailed explanation on the definition for rumor and gossip. Scholastic www2.scholastic.com information for kids, adults, and teachers to promote reading and effective learning environments Stop Bullying Now: http://www.stopbullyingnow.com/ A website devoted to reducing bullying and harassment in kids of all ages. “Take a stand, lend a hand. Stop bullying now.”
Effects of Rumors and Gossip March 2009 Staff: Jackie Barr, Alex Cheng, Allie Choy, Natasha Desai, Kai Kang, Jane Kim, Kriti Garg, Brittany Hopkins, Tiffany Lau, Yifang Qiu, Robert Rodine, Shishi Wang, Tim Wheeler, Matisse Yoshihara Advisors: Hung Wei, Kathy Fetterman, Carol Satterlee Visit us or submit stories at www.verdadera.org