The Impact of Gossip and Rumours

Gossip and rumours happens so frequently during our growing years, that some people have come to accept it as a normal part of life. But when it involves toxic friendships and spreading rumors, that is anything but normal. In fact, for those who are impacted, gossip can be downright painful and almost impossible to ignore – especially if social media is being used to spread it.

Gossip and rumors can alienate friends, ruin reputations, and even lead to ostracizing behavior and other forms of relational aggression. Kids who are being gossiped about are negatively impacted. For instance, gossip and rumors can destroy a person’s self-confidence and affect their self-esteem. It also can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, anxiety, and a host of other issues.

Let’s try to see the differences between rumours and gossip.

Rumors are pieces of information or a story that has not been verified. What this means, is that the person telling the story does not know for certain if it is true or not. Most of the time, people who spread rumors do not bother to determine if there is any truth to what they are saying. 

Typically, rumors are spread from person to person and can change slightly each time they are told. As a result, they can become exaggerated and altered over time.

Gossip is slightly different from a rumor. Usually, gossip involves a juicy detail of some sort, which means the information is shocking or personal. What’s more, gossip is usually spread behind a person’s back and can be very hurtful.

Gossip usually involves love, relationships, sex, and other issues that people usually do not talk about publicly. Additionally, gossip almost always causes pain and humiliation for the person it is about. People share gossip without any thought of how it might impact the person it is about.

Rumours

  • Unverified pieces of information
  • Often involves speculation
  • Unknown if information is true
  • May change slightly as retold
  • Information usually not harmful to another person

Gossip

  • Juicy or scandalous story
  • Hurtful for another person
  • Unknown if information is true
  • Usually involves things not discussed publicly
  • May humiliate the person it’s about

So why do people gossip?

To Feel Better 

When people feel bad about themselves, they sometimes will target other people to try to make themselves feel better. As a result, they talk about others as a way to deflect attention from themselves. 

To Feel Accepted 

If everyone else in their circle of friends is gossiping or spreading rumors, we feel like they have to do the same thing in order to be accepted. Many times peer pressure will play a factor in spreading rumors or gossiping.

To Get Attention 

When we know a secret that nobody else knows, or they are the first person in the group to hear a rumor, it makes them the center of attention. As a result, people that are trying to fit in or climb the social ladder might use gossip and rumors as a tool to gain popularity.

To Gain Power 

Some of us want to be in control and at the top of the social ladder. When we are at the top of the social ladder or are determined to climb higher, we sometimes accomplish that by diminishing the status of another person. Spreading rumors or gossiping is one of the primary ways people jockey for social status.

To Get Revenge 

When we are envious of another person’s looks, popularity, or money, we might use gossip and rumors to hurt that person. We also tend to use gossip and rumors to get back at someone who we feel deserves to be hurt. Making up a rumor or spreading gossip sometimes satisfies their need for revenge.



To Relieve Boredom 

Research indicates that boredom is often the number one reason why teens spread rumors. These teens are bored with their lives because there is no drama. As a result, they resort to rumors and gossip to spice things up and make life more exciting.


When we are being gossiped about or if someone is spreading rumors, there are a number of things that we can do to cope with it. For instance, you could stop dwelling on what other people are saying or go directly to the source and confront the issue. The key is to find a way to address the gossiping and rumor spreading that is comfortable for your child. 

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