2Opening Activity-People devote less than a fifth of their daily conversation to gossip. -Men gossip less than women. -People usually pass on gossip only to one other person.“Assess whether you think each of these three statements is true or false, and briefly explain your answers.”
3A FolktaleA young man spread a false rumor about an old man who lived at the end of his street. Overcome with guilt, he worked up the courage to apologize. He humbly walked to the old man’s door and said he was sorry. The wise old man looked at him. He said that he would forgive him, but first he must take a feather pillow to the top of a hill and pop it so that all the feathers spread in the wind. The young man thought it a strange request, but he did as the old man asked. Afterward, he went to report this to the old man and asked for forgiveness again. The old man said that when the young man collected all of the feathers, then he would be forgiven.Our words, like feathers, get scattered everywhere. The next time you are tempted to pass gossip along, remember that once your words are spoken, they can never be taken back.Lead a discussion about rumors with the students.
4What do you think these proverbs mean? What you don't see with your eyes, don't witness with your mouth. ~Jewish Proverb Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you. ~Spanish ProverbWho brings a tale takes two away. ~Irish Proverb
5Gossip and Rumours: Did you hear? You hear a juicy tidbit from a friend, who heard it from another friend, who heard it from a person in the hall, who read it on a note passed in math class, which was written by somebody who probably just made it up.
6So what ARE rumors, exactly So what ARE rumors, exactly? Is there a difference between a rumor and a piece of gossip? Well, this is what characterizes a rumor:A rumor is a piece of information or a story that has not been verified, meaning that the person telling it doesn't know if it's true or false.Rumors spread from person to person, or can spread from one person to a whole bunch of people at once.Rumors can change slightly each time they're told, so they get more exaggerated over time.Most people who spread rumors don't care if the story is true of not, and don't bother to check it out.A rumor might be true, it might be partially true and partially made up, or it might be totally made up. Unless somebody can definitely say that a story is real or fake, it will stay a rumor.Here's a good example of a rumor: "I heard that anybody who fails the next history test is going to have to repeat the course over the summer."
7Gossip, on the other hand, is a little different: Gossip is talk that is somehow "juicy," meaning it deals with subjects that are shocking or personal.Gossip is usually about things like love and relationships, or private things that people don't talk openly about.Gossip about a person is usually spread behind that person's back.Gossip can be true, false, or a rumor.When a piece of gossip is known to be false, it's a lie, plain and simple.Someone who spreads a lot of gossip can be called "a gossip."If a piece of gossip about somebody is true, it can still be very hurtful because that information may be private and personal.Here's an example of gossip: "Jane told me that when she tried to ask Craig out to a movie, he got so nervous that he almost fainted!"
8SlanderSlander is when people spread rumors or lies about a person in order to purposely cause pain or damage. Maybe they want to see this person humiliated or turn others against him or her. They make up lies or pass on embarrassing rumors that probably aren't true.Most of the time, we only hear the word "slander" associated with adult conflicts, but it applies to young people as well.When slander is in written form, it's called libel. You've probably heard lots of stories about celebs suing tabloid newspapers because the papers have published libel against them. The celebs usually win!Slander is one of the most dangerous types of rumors, because the whole point is to hurt somebody.An example: "Teresa is a big cheat. She cheats off anyone she sits next to, so don't ever sit near her." This is hurtful to Teresa because not only is she being accused of doing something against the rules, her friends may stop sitting with her in class.
9DishingYou may hear people say, "Give me the dish!" or "Let's dish the dirt!" Dishing is another word for gossiping, and a kind of general spreading of rumors and gossip that people don't usually think twice about.It's a little different than slander, because most of the time, people don't dish with the aim of causing someone pain and humiliation. However, sometimes it does just that.An example: "I asked Jenny what it was like to hold Andrew's hand, and she said it was all clammy and sweaty." This was probably an innocent question and answer driven by curiosity, but if it gets back to Andrew, he'll feel totally embarrassed!
10Fears or ConcernsMany rumors tap into people's common fears, and this makes them sound true even though they usually are not.These are often rumors that involve the threat of physical danger, the unknown and unfamiliar, and things that are gross or way- out weird.An example: "I hear that the cafeteria meatloaf is made from rats they catch in the school basement."
11Jokes or Wild StoriesSometimes rumors start out as silly jokes, then get spread around and changed over and over again. When lots of people are telling the same tale, it makes it seem more like the truth. You might think, "How can all these people be wrong?"When these rumors last long enough and spread far enough, they actually become part of our culture, often called "Urban Legends," "Modern Legends," or "Urban Myths."An example: "Did you hear that when it's halftime at the Super Bowl, water supplies across the U.S. get used up? It's because of all the people going to the bathroom at the same time!"
12MisinformationMany rumors are just about people getting things wrong, or believing in exaggerations. Often people will swear up and down that they know something to be true when, in reality, they're just passing on a rumor they've heard from someone.An example of a rumor that's just misinformation: "I heard that it's okay to drive five miles an hour above the speed limit. The police can't give you a ticket unless you go faster than that." For the record, this is not true. The speed limit is the speed limit, but this rumor is so widespread that people often use it as an excuse with police officers who are writing them speeding tickets!
13Cyber-GossipIf you've ever heard something juicy in an online chat room or in an IM from a friend, you know that the Internet has made it easy to spread a rumor to lots of people with lightning-fast speed. "Cyber-gossip" can involve any of the other types mentioned here.It's easy for people to feel less responsible when starting a rumor online, especially if they're able to do it anonymously. Remember that starting a rumor this way, or passing it on, can be even more damaging than if it's done in person because of how many eyes it can reach in a short period of time.A hurtful rumor that's spread through cyber-gossip should be taken just as seriously as any other kind of rumor.
14Let's say you've just heard a REALLY juicy rumor about someone you know. It may not be true, but it's too good to keep to yourself. Your first instinct is to hop online and IM it to all your friends. We've all had that kind of urge. But why? Here are some possible reasons:
15To Feel SuperiorWhen people are feeling bad about themselves, they sometimes think they'll feel better if there were someone worse off than they are. It's like, it's okay being near the bottom, as long as they're not actually on the bottom. The easiest way for them to make sure someone else is on the bottom is to make up a rumor that puts him or her there.
16To feel like part of the group If everybody else is gossiping or spreading rumors, you might feel you have to do the same thing in order to fit in. When you're "in on the secret," you're in the group. Unfortunately, the person who the gossip or rumor is about is usually left out of the group for the same reason that you're let into it.
17For AttentionWhen you know a secret that nobody knows, or are the first person in your group to hear a rumor, it can make you the center of attention. A rumor or piece of gossip is sometimes like money; telling it to people is like buying their attention, if only for a few minutes. You might even save up a really scandalous rumor, waiting for the right moment to blab so you get the maximum amount of attention for it.
18For control or powerCertain people always want to be in control and at the top of the ladder. You probably know at least one person who needs to be the leader, say what goes, and make all the decisions. When people are at the top of the popularity scale, or are determined to climb higher, one way they do this is by reducing the "status" of another person. Spreading rumors and gossip is one of the main ways people reduce another person's status, especially among girls. It's like one caveman beating up another caveman for control of the tribe-only it's done with cruel whispers and petty remarks instead of fists.
19Out of jealousy or a need for revenge If you're jealous of someone's looks, popularity, or money, you might gossip about that person in order to hurt him or her. If you feel that someone's done something bad to you, or deserves to be hurt, making up a rumor might satisfy your sense of justice.
20Out of BoredomDid you know that in many studies, this was the #1 reason why young people say they spread rumors? Sometimes, a period where everyone is happy and getting along just seems kind of-dull. Spreading juicy dish might shake things up a bit, or get two people to start a fight, and that would make life a little more exciting. All those tabloid newspapers and TV shows full of celebrity gossip are pure proof that rumors are a popular form of entertainment.
21Why it hurts, why it’s wrong... Let's say you have a piece of wood, a nail, and a hammer. Pretend the wood is a person, and the nail is a nasty rumor about that person. If you hammer in the nail, you're obviously hurting him or her. If you then pull out the nail-well, there's still a hole in the wood, and the damage has been done. There are many reasons why that nail of a rumor can be so harmful
22Words hurt as much as a punch Sometimes more, because a punch may be painful, but at least it's over pretty fast. Rumors are, quite simply, a form of bullying that's sometimes referred to as "relational aggression." When a person or a group makes up a rumor about someone or decides to spread nasty gossip, it's usually to hurt someone, break up a friendship, or make someone less popular. It's the same thing as teasing, only it's done behind someone's back instead of to his or her face.
23Gossip and rumors can be a form of exclusion When you spread a rumor about someone, you're sending a signal that the person is outside of the group, and somehow less worthy of friendship than others. You're making fun of that person or pointing out negative things about him or her. This can let others think that it's okay to make the person feel inferior, and make him or her an outsider.
24Gossip and rumors can destroy trust We need to be able to trust our friends, and gossiping and rumors can break this trust. If you tell a personal secret to a friend, and he turns around and blabs it to someone else, you might feel like you'll get burned if you ever get close to him again.
25True or not, private is private Let's say your mother tells you that your friend Susannah's parents told her that they're getting a divorce. You don't feel bad about passing it around because, after all, it's a fact, right? Wrong! Perhaps Susannah isn't ready for people to know about her parents splitting up. It can be very painful and humiliating when other people know things about us that we want to keep private. It can make us feel like we've been violated, like something that is supposed to be just ours is now out in the open for all to see-and to judge.
26Believing rumors can lead to bad choices Letting a rumor influence your behavior is like letting someone else make a big decision for you. Let's say you hear that the Principal plans to call a Snow Day tomorrow because a blizzard's coming. Expecting a day off, you don't do your homework. The next morning, the blizzard turns out to be nothing more than a drizzle, and school isn't cancelled after all. Doh! You get zeroes on your assignments.
27Decide whether it's hurtful or harmless When you hear something about someone you know and have the urge to pass it on, don't think about whether it's true or not. Instead, ask yourself these questions:Why do I want to pass this on?Would I want people to know this kind of information about me?How will this person feel if he or she knew this rumor was being spread?Will this rumor reduce this person's status or make him or her excluded from the group?Your answers will help you figure out the right thing to do.
28Make the rumor stop with you If you decide that the rumor is hurtful in some way, make a stand. Decide that you don't want to take part in spreading it. Others may continue to circulate the gossip, but you've made a personal choice to stay out of it. Chances are that the rumor will die out much more quickly than if you had joined the buzz.
29Don't be an audienceWhen someone comes to you with a rumor, try not to be an audience. This person may want to hurt somebody, or may be after attention or power. It can be hard to resist hearing some juicy dish, especially if you're bored, but make an effort to say, "I'm not interested in hearing mean gossip, thanks."
30Be a PeacemakerIf one of your friends wants to hurt someone else by spreading lies or rumors, speak up. Let your friend know that this isn't the right thing to do. If you need to, find another friend who feels the same way and talk to the others together. If rumors are getting out of control and someone is being made a real victim, get a counselor or teacher involved.
31Respect others' privacy If you don't want other people talking about the personal things in your life, don't do it to others. When you hear personal information about a classmate or friend, try to keep it to yourself, and don't worry about whether it's true or not. If you respect people's privacy, they'll be more likely to do the same for you.
32From wordscanheal.orgThe Top Ten Tips for Healing with WordsBite your tongue before you gossip; your tongue will hurt, but your friends won’t.Stop yourself from gossiping by changing the subject mid-sentence; only you will notice.Never say derogatory things about yourself; people might agree with you.Never use humor to put others down; joking around usually comes around.Speak sweetly, so if you have to eat your words, they won’t taste so bad.The gossip game always takes turns; the only way to avoid being "it" is to stop playing.Trust makes a friendship; gossip takes it away.You are the proud owner of a set of ears; use them at your own discretion.To get friends who won’t gossip about you, you must be a friend who won’t gossip about them.Stamp out gossip by voting with your feet; just walk away if someone gossips.
34Your assignment can deal with the negative effects of gossip, a way to deal with it, encouraging against it, or how notparticipating is the right CHOICE.Create a collage (if magazines are available)Write a poemCreate a cartoonWrite a short storyCreate a posterCreate a songBe sure to ask if you are unsure or your idea.