The evolution of a rumor: Sound familiar?
Opinion of Hannah Gellar
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”We have all heard it before. The constant reminder at such a young age to shake off the name-calling or mistruths that are thrown around the hallway walls. We were taught to worry about ourselves, to treat others the way we wanted to be treated. We were told to be the bigger person, to show the bully their words simply didn’t faze us. I am not here to preach about being nice, I am here to speak the truth about the harsh reality of rumors and how words spread around these high school walls and even beyond through the screens of hundreds of students. One common way that we see sexual harrasment spark is rooted through these rumors. Unlike physical bullying, rumors and words cannot be revealed or shown in order to get authority to make it stop. It is simply a person behind a screen, or whispering lies to their friends. It is a chain that cannot be broken once started. A chain that no teacher, counselor, friend, or parent can stop. The reality is, just because we can’t see the wounds, doesn’t mean they aren’t physically there.Even though the following is a hypothetical scenario, it is one that the majority of high school girls in these halls can relate to. For this purpose, we will call the victim Jane Doe.
Consider the following scenario:Jane is a high school student trying to navigate her way academically and socially in order to succeed. It isn’t until a little lie was spread about her where everything changed. Time: 7:30 p.m. Friday: Jane is at a football game with her friends enjoying hot chocolate and supporting maroon and white for her school. At the end of the game, her friend John asks her for a ride home because his mom is not able to get him. Jane drives him home that night and she gets in her warm pajamas and goes to bed.Time 9:00 a.m. Saturday: Jane wakes up to a text from her friend “Girl fill me in! I didn’t not know you were into him but get it girl.” Jane calls her friend to find out that people are going around saying that she hooked up with John.Time: 10:30 a.m. Saturday: Jane goes on the anonymous social media website, After School. Scrolling through her feed, she comes across a daunting post. “If you want someone easy to get with, just go to Jane Doe!!”Time: 8:30 a.m. Monday: Nervous to even go into school, Jane shuffles her way into the classroom to find her friends and classmates snickering at a photo on a phone. Throughout the day, Jane receives may dirty looks and becomes self-conscious of herself, even though she did not do anything.Time 10:30 a.m. Monday: At lunch, Jane’s best friend shows her the photo going around of John in Jane’s car. Immediately, an innocent car ride home has identified Jane as someone she isn’t and has ruined her reputation.Time 7:30 a.m. Monday: Jane has received many texts, of friends yelling at her, or people that she has not even talked to confront her about what people are saying. Although Jane has denied and has tried to explain to people nothing happened, her words are powerless. The rumor has taken over the truth.
Frankly, this timeline can go on for an eternity. The rumor will eventually sizzle down and a new one will replace it, but Jane will forever be taunted by what her peers think she has done. It is inevitable that rumors will spread around the high school walls, but it is a choice to spread what is said. It is important to remember that even if you didn’t start it, you can be the person to end it. Words hurt, and sometimes you have to speak your mind, even if your voice shakes. Remember, talking badly about someone else while they aren’t there to defend themself says more about you than the person your’re talking about.