The Ye ‘Ole Rumor Mill and all the problems that come with it is the subject of this Big B File.
In today’s world, rumors spread like wildfire and with regularity every day of the year. There are shows on television that are about nothing else but rumors . . .also known as gossip . . . examples being Access Hollywood Entertainment Tonight (ET), TMZ on TV, Extra, etc. Even television and radio stations along with cable networks have reporters whose job is to do nothing else other than cover and report on the latest rumors about someone… particularly celebrities and other people and positions of power in this country United States and all over the world… including at all levels of power from the local town to Congress and the Presidency.
Now, i’ll admit that I have spread rumors in the past and was an active participant in that endeavor as well. Nevertheless, it is wrong in a number of ways… not to mention violating the eighth commandment which says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”.
As I was once told by someone, rumors can cause harm to somebody… whether it is their reputation, integrity, and/or physically… and that harm could become so severe that it could take a long time to get all that all that back or it could be irreparable and as a result they would never get their reputation back.
How fast does a rumor spread? The best example that the Big B Files could find comes from the 11th season episode of the hit TV series M*A*S*H entitled “bombshells”. In this episode, Dr. Hawkeye Pierce and Dr. Charles Winchester III started a completely made up rumor that Marilyn Monroe was coming to the 4077th M*A*S*H for a visit. Before long, everyone in the camp had believed the rumor and so everything was arranged for the “visit” that was never going to occur in the first place. In the end… the two doctors had illustrated perfectly for us how fast rumors can spread as well is how believable those same rumors… true or false… can be.
Unfortunately spreading rumors can cause harm as a Big B Files told you just a few moments ago. Just ask the parents of Dardenne Prairie, Missouri native Megan Meier, who committed suicide as a result of some vicious rumors that were spread around the Internet… specifically using the website MySpace…on more than one occasion, and the end a nearby neighbor of the Meiers’ who was behind the rumors is now facing trial on charges of one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, California where MySpace is based (from the
Tina was pressed for time. She had to go. But once at the orthodontist’s office she called Megan: Did you sign off?
“No, Mom. They are all being so mean to me.”
“You are not listening to me, Megan! Sign off, now!”
Fifteen minutes later, Megan called her mother. By now Megan was in tears.
“They are posting bulletins about me.” A bulletin is like a survey. “Megan Meier is a slut. Megan Meier is fat.”
Megan was sobbing hysterically. Tina was furious that she had not signed off.
Once Tina returned home she rushed into the basement where the computer was. Tina was shocked at the vulgar language her daughter was firing back at people.
“I am so aggravated at you for doing this!” she told Megan.
Megan ran from the computer and left, but not without first telling Tina, “You’re supposed to be my mom! You’re supposed to be on my side!”
On the stairway leading to her second-story bedroom, Megan ran into her father, Ron.
“I grabbed her as she tried to go by,” Ron says. “She told me that some kids were saying horrible stuff about her and she didn’t understand why. I told her it’s OK. I told her that they obviously don’t know her. And that it would be fine.”
Megan went to her room and Ron went downstairs to the kitchen, where he and Tina talked about what had happened, the MySpace account, and made dinner.
Twenty minutes later, Tina suddenly froze in mid-sentence.
“I had this God-awful feeling and I ran up into her room and she had hung herself in the closet.”
Megan Taylor Meier died the next day, three weeks before her 14th birthday.
Later that day, Ron opened his daughter’s MySpace account and viewed what he believes to be the final message Megan saw – one the FBI would be unable to retrieve from the hard drive.
It was from Josh and, according to Ron’s best recollection, it said, “Everybody in O’Fallon knows how you are. You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you.”
– St. Charles Journal story by Steve Pokin (Tuesday, November 13, 2007)
And, as the example demonstrated the harm done can be irreparable… even to the point that the result was a tragedy, not only for the person harmed, but for the family and numerous other people as well. The Big B Files suggests that before spreading or even starting a rumor, we all should consider why it is being spread, who is the subject of the rumor and what the impact is to the person who is the object of the rumor. To put it in the words of former U.S Secretary of Labor in Ronald Reagan’s administration, Raymond James Donovan, “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?” That is a great question indeed! An excellent illustration of why rumors are a bad thing and should not be spread whatsoever.
And that’s the Big B Files. Click on the comments link below and tell me what you think… I’m Bryan Hewing