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Who Did WHAT?

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Did you here what she did last weekend? Did you see how fat her butt looks in those jeans? I can’t believe she said that...

These harmful things come out of teenagers’ mouths everyday, hurting everyone who’s targeted by the harmful gossip that circulates the halls. Not only does gossip have a miserable impact on adolescents, it also showcases one of the worst ways to communicate with others.

One of the reasons that gossip is such a bad form of communication is that it spreads faster than wildfire. This causes the true story to be warped and deformed with every new person that hears it, like the game telephone. The first thing you hear is that someone got new shoes, and the a couple days later it’s circulating that that person stole those shoes and the police is now conducting a manhunt to find them. This is a prime example of how gossip is a terrible form of communication – it morphs the original message.

Another reason why gossip ruins communication among peers is that, most often, at least in high school, they are talking about someone they don’t like, instead of just going up to them and having a reasoned discussion. This is an entirely lose-lose situation, because the gossipee’s actions most likely won’t change, and if they find out that they are being talked about, they will feel terrible. But if it’s a lose-lose, why gossip?

According to an article on pbskids.org, there are several distinct reasons why people gossip: to feel superior, to get attention, and to feel like their part of a group. Upon examining these three traits, they all come back to one thing: the need for attention. 100% of sophomore girls who were interviewed said that more often than not, they gossip to get the attention and approval of others. And if one is only seeking to get attention when they’re gossiping, are they going to stick to the story is it’s boring? No, in most cases, gossipers warp the story or leave parts out to make it dramatic, in order for more attention to be put on them. This leads to the third reason why gossip makes for terrible communication: exaggeration of the truth.

Have you ever heard someone talking their friends new haircut, and hear them say “Yeah they cut off like a foot no lie”? Unless they actually did chop 12 inches, which is seriously unlikely, this simple phrase is an example of the third reason why gossip is a abysmal communicator.
Over-exaggeration is used millions of times every day, especially in a certain place where over-zealous teenagers run around hyped up on caffeine, screaming about how they “failed that test OMG!” Even though the only thing a sub-par test exclamation communicates is that the student may or may not be on the verge of a pre-mid-life crisis, it still demonstrates how over-exaggeration can affect the students mind, and their peers. All the kids who hear this troubled shout will go into the test prepared to fail, which certainly won’t snag any of them a winning score.

There isn’t a good way to communicate when the real message changes with each new person that hears it. But that’s the nature of gossip. So the next time someone says to you “Did you hear what she did last weekend?,” instead of responding with “Oh my gosh, no! What did she do?,” turn around and go ask her to hear the real story.



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