Gossip’s traumatizing effect

Naomi Prasad

“My sister was a bit of a pathological liar when she was little,” said junior social work major Morgan Huffman. Madison, Huffman’s younger sister, was riding home with one of her classmates when she decided to share some information on her mother. She explained that her house was clean only when her family was expecting visitors.

Huffman then further explained that her mother made her clean the house because her mom didn’t even like to clean—she only liked to drink alcohol, along with her dad. Huffman’s mother received a concerned call later on that week.

Huffman’s mom isn’t the only one who has been affected by a rumor. Sophomore elementary education major, Laryssa Schnell had a rumor spread about her at summer camp.

“At Broken Arrow Ranch in the summer, a basketball hoop fell on me and gave me a concussion. That night I collapsed and one of my coworkers found me at the campfire bowl, so he took me to the hospital.” When Schnell got back from the hospital, rumors were flying around camp that she was taken to the hospital because she was found unconscious in the shower. The rumor said that she had to be taken to the hospital because she was pregnant and the father was the coworker who took her.

Northeastern University conducted a study researching how gossip affects people. They displayed pictures of random people and under their pictures wrote a rumor pertaining to that person. The research showed that people’s eyes lingered on the pictures with negative rumors.

Freshman Rebecca Phillips, a general studies major, recalled a story about one of her friends in high school. Her friend travelled to India for a trip and one day rode a motorcycle with a man. Nothing else happened afterwards. When her friend came back, a rumor flew around that she had asked for sex. Traumatized, the girl decided to go to a different school.

What do all these stories and facts tell us? Before you share something about someone who isn’t present, even if it’s true, make sure that you would still say it if they were present. Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Naomi is a junior studying chemistry and pre-med.