The dirt on rumors

Adam Griffiths

I have a secret, and if you’re lucky, I’ll tell you.

It’s not just any secret. It’s a big, fat, juicy secret. It’s the kind of secret that could ruin a career, get a person shot or, worse, socially ostracized.

I’m like Regina in Mean Girls, minus the big hair. I’m the friend who sticks his nose everywhere it should and shouldn’t be. Some call it being inquisitive, but I’ll admit it’s pure curiosity and rarely a necessary interest.

It’s also a curse.

You don’t ask to be the friend who offers a shoulder and two rolls of toilet paper when someone tells you he sold his body throughout high school. You don’t ask to carry the knowledge of why he’s uneasy being touched because he was molested as a child. You don’t get to go back and erase the image of hundreds of cuts on her stomach. You don’t get to forget the fact that she had an abortion.

But who’s to say you should take my word for all this?

“It’s all he said, she said,” a friend told me. “It’s all texting and Facebooking, and no one talks, and things get distorted.”

So let’s talk.

Let’s talk about how last Thursday night I walked into the newsroom and our team was on a wild goose hunt tracing the unknown source of a rumor that someone hung a noose on campus. Calling and waking people up at 11 p.m. Waiting for the official word from Black United Students. Sitting around feeling dumbfounded that we couldn’t trace the words that caused an emergency BUS meeting back to its source.

At a press conference Tuesday, BUS president Sasha Parker said that while there was no direct evidence, there could be validity to the rumors in light of recent happenings on our campus and across the country.

And that’s the granddaddy of all secrets.

The biggest secret is the truth that no one has to tell anymore. The truth about rumors is that there’s usually some part of reality behind them.

Admittedly, rumors, by nature, don’t cause damage, but words are all we’re reduced to in the end. The manipulation and misuse of verbal communication runs rampant in a world of indirect electronic communication. Words simultaneously mean everything and very little and it’s hard to distinguish serious from insincere.

There’s a certain satisfaction gained in starting a rumor, a certain pride that many of us have probably experienced sometime during our lives. Sure, the occasional inside joke among friends doesn’t hurt. But when someone feels they can rise against that and create a disturbance that stays on the minds of any discernible number of others, a line is crossed.

That line was crossed on this campus last week, and this campus is speaking out against those who perpetrate ignorance and self-indulgence in the form of hearsay.

Slowly and increasingly, we’re not buying it. Staying stronger than the rumor is the response in ensuring that the next one impacts less and prepares us to react more effectively in the case of a legitimate concern.

So watch out. The next time I get bored, I might just eavesdrop on your conversation. And then I might just tell a friend your secret. And then she’ll tell Facebook. And Facebook will tell the world.

Figuring out how to save your world when it’s drowning in its own red-tape, closed doors and transparent fallacy – That’s the secret.

Everything else is the truth.

Adam Griffiths is a sophomore information design major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]