ARE YOU A TARGET OF GOSSIP AND RUMOUR?

The synonyms of the word ‘Rumour’ are comment, news, fabrication, report, falsehood, scandal, gossip, story, hearsay, suggestion, hoax, tale, whisper, word, lie, innuendo.

There were 16 such words above that were quite relevant to the word ‘Rumour’, but out of those 16 words, 10 are extremely negative. All the previously published articles have explained about this topic in detail. But we all agree that rumour never does any good to the gossip mongers or the victim of the same.

I was wondering about the person who becomes the topic of discussion among many, about whom the rumour is being spread, who is blamed and accused indirectly instead of being talked or addressed in person or face to face. Just imagine how hurtful it is to be the topic of discussion for no reason. Just imagine how the person must be leading his or her life when he or she knows that there’re people talking behind him or her falsely.

A rumour about someone who is innocent can cause majorly four damages to that person:

  1. It destroys his/her REPUTATION
  2. It pushes him/her into NEEDLESS MENTAL STRESS
  3. It makes him/her to SELF-ALIENATE from own people even
  4. It stops his/her PROGRESS for SOMETIME or for LIFETIME

But I want to focus on the part where we can get out of this phase of being the target of rumours and gossips and live out our life as we, our family and our God intended for us.

I am very much aware of the rumours and gossips that have been spreading around in our community concerning my inability, my sickness and the assumptions they cook out of them.

Am I affected by it?

Yes, of course! I feel my reputation is spoiled, I avoid to face certain people in my life, even I avoid to talk to people over the phone, I suffer from regrets and mental stress… BUT I never allowed them to stop me going ahead…

Why and How?

‘How to handle rumours when we are the target?’ – I have FIVE solid steps that I follow and can help all of us dealing with rumours and gossips when we are the victims of it.

  1. Step back: Stepping back from the situation and the negative emotions surrounding us, temporarily help us big time. When the fire flares in front of us, we step back reflexively before we plan to control it. It is the same way that we need to follow when we face the flares of rumours and gossips trying to burn our reputation. Acting on our negative emotions like revenge and anger can cause more problems to us, so it is wise for us to step back for some time, till our negative emotions towards the person or the whole situation dies down.

This stepping back has always helped me to reorganize my emotions and reacting impulsively has always put me into shame and disgust. Take my words… I have gone through it.

2. Forgive and forget: When we step back, we plan to deal with the situation. We struggle to be at peace at the memory, the hurts haunt us. We might feel that avenging the person who wronged us or seeing them punished would give us peace of mind. But that’s not the truth. A negative feeling won’t be eradicated with another negative act. Only forgiving and forgetting the person who had done wrong to us with the help from above divinely can actually calms our hearts and minds down.

Today, I was talking to someone who wants to see her perpetrators to be punished in front of her eyes so that she can have peace. But I lovingly made her understand that’s not how someone can attain peace. It is only forgiving the person who wronged us, can allow God to work within us and we can have peace that is beyond human understanding.

3. De-identifying from the situation: We have a habit of identifying ourselves or relate to the situation very quickly or quite impulsively. That pulls us behind always. A rumour is an act of a person who is flawed. Though we are not perfect, yet we need to remember that someone else’s remark or the remarks of people don’t certify our characters. So why to identify or recognize the situation as a reflection of us or our characters? De-identifying from the situation is absolutely fantastic to deal well with the rumours and gossips against us.

4. Refocus and Look at the bigger picture: I always try to apply this step in my life. My future doesn’t depend on what people think or say of me. I am solely responsible for my life, no one else. It is only God who can make me or break me. I know this truth yet at times I struggle because of what people talk behind me, close ones spread rumours about me. I falter yet, try to shift my focus ahead instead of looking here and there.

Looking at the bigger picture of our life is important instead of dwelling in the mess created by some gossip and rumour mongers.

5. Respond to the person who wronged us: This step is optional. This step can be taken when we have come out of the mess completely and have built ourselves to help others going through such difficulties. We can go up to the person who wronged us or spread rumours about us and explain how hurtful what he or she did to us. It is always good to let the person know how it feels. But this step can be avoided if we are not confident enough to face the man or woman caused us so much pain.

Are you a target of gossip and rumour, today? I want to encourage all of you to follow the above mentioned steps and what Rajnandini suggested in her article on this topic – “I would urge you to take your hurts and scars to God who would heal you and fill your heart with His peace.”

While closing this article, I want to address to the people who knowingly or unknowingly become the medium of a rumour or lie about someone who is innocent. I will just quote a verse from the Bible for them where it instructs to think and understand about a few attributes that are very essential for our as well as the welfare of others… And in that list ‘following what is true’ is mentioned first.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Friends! Let’s choose TRUTH over LIES. Let’s turn away our ears from rumours and strive to search and research the Truth about everything and everyone. Let’s not heed a rumour and participate in a gossip journey which can be hurtful to someone who’s innocent.

Stay watchful and careful of rumour and gossips…

Stay Blessed!

KICK AWAY THE RUMOURS

For years together it was believed that the earth was flat. Someone somewhere on the basis of some assumptions would have come to this conclusion which would then have been ‘proven’ on the basis of a few known facts and vehemently supported by well-meaning intellectuals of the time. With the spread of this information/ misinformation from ear to ear, people worldwide assumed the earth to be flat until a Portugese explorer Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigated the earth and proved otherwise, substantiating the claims of others with beliefs similar to his own. How many wrong notions would have been prevented only if people did not spread unverified information in those early days!

Just a month back, reports announced discovery of 3,500 tonnes of gold valued at 12 lakh crore in an eastern Uttar Pradesh district in India. What soon followed was elation by the district administration along with speculative preparations as to how the gold could be used. The raging rumours were put to rest in a matter of few days by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) which stated that the quantity of gold that had been discovered was 160 kilograms and not 3,500 as had been clearly exaggerated. That was the end of the rumour.

Rumour and gossip – are both same?

Though the two words are at times used interchangeably, there is a fine line between the two. Gossip is unrestricted conversation about people or events. What is being gossiped about may not necessarily be false or exaggerated. The purview of gossip is generally within a social circle or a limited sphere. Rumours, on the other hand involve circulation of unverified or doubtful information. They seem to be true but may not essentially be true. The scope of the spread of rumours is without bounds. Japanese American sociologist Tamotsu Shibutani describes rumours as “improvised news” which tends to spread when the demand for information exceeds supply. In other words, people need something or the other to talk about all the time.

Which types of people generally create and/ or spread rumours?

Though all people are instrumental in creating and spreading rumours (even if unintentionally), there are certain types of people who are more active in this area.

  • People of talkative nature
  • People of suspicious attitude
  • Attention-seeking people
  • Hedonistic people
  • Sadistic people

Why and how are rumours spread?

What is very interesting to note is that some rumours are absolutely baseless. They might have been started by attention-seeking hedonistic people but thrive by the constant transmission by unsuspecting others who do not bother to double-check on the facts. To give an example, in the present days of the pandemic Covid-19 there is a picture of a teary-eyed man doing the rounds in social media circles with the caption stating – it wrenches the heart to see the Italian Head of state shedding tears on the present state of affairs. Well, the fact is that the picture is not of the Italian PM but that of the Brazilian President and has no connection whatsoever with the current world situation. How many thousands would have forwarded that post (and still continue to) can be reserved for speculation!

Though some rumours are momentarily entertaining, not all are harmless. Think of the bloody communal/ racist riots and hatred that spread because of one igniting rumour. Thousands of people end up losing their lives, amiable relationships become constrained, property is damaged and peace is lost. At times, generations continue to be victimized for one rumour which caused certain uproar years before.

Rumours cause way more damage than can be repaired. They can leave people emotionally scarred for life. Many relationships have broken because of rumours questioning the fidelity one of the partners by mere outsiders. Rumours, especially those that are personal in nature reduce self-esteem of individuals and cause a decline in overall performance efficiency. Grapevine communications in most organizations pass on opinions and suspicions that are way too damaging.

What do you and I need to do?

We live in times when rumours are plentiful, spread at galloping speed, are made viral for commercial gains and take violent turns too. How can we respond responsibly?

Speak less – This is the all-purpose antidote to the many ills caused by the jingle of our vocal cords. Hence, refrain from unwanted gossip. 

Use leisure time productively – Rather than catching up with similar minded gossip mongers or picking up the mobile and calling up people one after the other in free time to feast on juicy stories, its wise not to fall victim to such idle time indulgences.

Beware of the ‘forwarding addiction’ – Some of us can’t help but forward texts, posts, videos and any content that we feel ‘others ought to know’. But, it is imperative to remember that at times we do more disservice than service to others and ourselves by such of our actions.

Do your research – Whether you desire to share information or not, always verify information received from others before you choose to believe them. Verify information before you can call them ‘facts’.

Share only authentic information – Before you share information, make sure what you share is authentic and necessary/ beneficial for the other person/ others.

Break the chain of rumours – Just as you need to exercise caution not to create or believe in rumours, you need to take a stand against relishing, propagating and seeing rumours spread. Stay away from rumour mongers!

Apologize if you have in some way spread a rumour or created one – At times, we become a part of the chain of spread of rumours either because of ignorance or because of a failure to verify facts. In such times, it is pertinent to issue a word of apology as soon as the truth meets the eye.

If you have been victimised by a rumour

If you are a person who has been victimised by rumours either at an individual or societal level, take time to deal with it. No, I won’t suggest you to laugh it away – because not all rumours can be laughed away. Neither, would I suggest that you wait for an opportunity to avenge. But, I would urge you to take your hurts and scars to God who would heal you and fill your heart with His peace.

Final Words

Each of us is accountable before God for all that we say and do. There can be no blame-shifting before Him. So it would be wise to verify all that we believe in before propagating the same, lest it would result in some irreparable damage to self or others.