Getting the run of the rumor mill

By Latisha Johnson
February 10, 2005

Have there ever been times in your life when you’ve felt like you’re in the dark. Like there is some secret society that knows everything about you that you have yet to learn about yourself. Maybe this occurred your sophomore year in high school or your freshman year in college, but chances are it has occurred.

Perhaps you have even been on the other side of the mill. Re-telling and somehow fabricating your own version of the truth. It may have not been done intentionally, but because of misinterpreted information. There are two and sometimes three sides to every story.

Many will agree that these stories are juvenile and somewhat elementary; however, rumor mills can start even as an adult. The workplace is a great place to start rumors. Corporate rumors lead to many different scenarios that inadvertently affect the economy.

Gossip is a malady that will forever plague tranquility; something destined to occur. We read it everyday in tabloids and from entertainment resources. The media loves gossip, it promotes interest.

The rumor mill always begins with two subjects, A and B. Subject A and B have a disagreement. Their disagreement may seem private to them, but little do they know Subject C has been listening. Now Subject C may know either parties or just one but that doesn’t stop the rumor mill from its highest moment of delight, something I like to call the growth phase.

Now, of course since Subject C is standing across the room, there is little to no ability for he or she to possibly hear the exact troubles that have promoted the disagreement between the two parties being A and B. So how is it possible for Subject C to tell the story when they don’t have specific details? Now C must implement their ideas of what possibly could have happened to provoke the situation.

For example: Sam and Amanda are at the King of Prussia Mall shopping in Diesel. Amanda, unknown to her, is wearing a shirt that has a censor still on it. As Sam and Amanda are exiting the store, the alarm goes off. An employee comes over and asks them to walk through again. Sam goes through, no beep, Amanda goes through and the alarm sounds again.

The employee asks Amanda if he could check her bags. Her bags are fine, but she walks through and still beeps. Just as Amanda is walking through, mall security comes along and assists the employee. While all of this is going on Meagan (Subject C), who is in Amanda’s class on Monday morning, is walking by and waves at Amanda. Amanda, frustrated, doesn’t see her. Meagan is now upset that Amanda ‘dissed’ her. Eventually it is concluded that Amanda wasn’t stealing and that it was the sensor left in her shirt that set the alarm off. No harm no foul.

Meagan goes back and tells Jennifer, who is in their class, she saw Amanda being arrested at the mall for shoplifting. This forms the second part of the rumor mill, the gossip phase. So as the mill continues rumors circulate that Amanda is a thief and she becomes known as the “campus klepto.”

Amanda returns to class on Monday morning and notices that her classmates are looking at her and whispering. She still has no clue what has gone down. After class, Sam calls Amanda on her cell phone and tells her that he heard a rumor that she was arrested for stealing from the mall.

Amanda, upset, has no clue how the rumors started to even put an end to them. This has immensely affected her credibility. Her reputation is in ruin. The rumor mill always comes full circle. Amanda may be vindictive, who knows what may come of this.

So the lesson to be learned here is: keep your mouths shut and mind your business.

Posted to the web by Shawn Rice

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Latisha Johnson

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