Regina George (Rachel McAdams) (far right) spreads rumors in "Mean Girls." (Photo courtesy of Paramount)

Opinion

Opinion: The failures of high school gossip

High school gossip is extremely popular and can be dangerous.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/jennawilsonlevin/" target="_self">Jenna Wilson-Levin</a>

Jenna Wilson-Levin

April 27, 2022
While the narrative spun by high school movies differs entirely from the real experience of high school, a usual truth of both is the prevalence of gossip. Gossip to me is fascinating — probably because I am usually only watching from the sidelines.

Gossip can be fun. It is not necessarily negative. I love to hear about acquaintances getting together or being accepted into a great college (good for them). However, I am going to focus on when gossip can be harmful, especially when it is false.

Recently, I have discovered that there can be unreliable narrators in life. An unreliable narrator (likely learned about in 10th grade English) is a storyteller who is untrustworthy and is most commonly utilized in first-person narratives. The narrator is either purposefully or accidentally misleading, making the reader doubt their reliability as a storyteller. The thing is that, in life, this kind of person is prevalent, however, more difficult to discern.

When you are reading a book, it is often easier to spot a fallacy than when you are involved with or connected to a story. It is also difficult to see a friend — whom you trust — as an unreliable narrator. I don’t think you should go around doubting your friends and calling them liars; however, I do believe in being careful about what you accept as fact.

In a situation that calls for gossips, such as your friend having a rude encounter or a break-up between peers, there are often multiple sides and blindly accepting one may skew your view. While you may never know all sides and be able to deduce the truth, it is best to acknowledge yourself when you know you don’t have all the facts.

I have heard negative rumors about myself that any friend of mine would know were untrue. Additionally, they were spun by someone who had never talked to me, only assumed. It’s hurtful to hear, but it is even more hurtful to imagine the people that believe that because they didn’t know all the facts and experienced me for themselves.

I have become friends with people who I heard negative (unfounded) rumors about and have been delighted to find them to be wonderful. I have discovered through experience that they were not at all like what was described.

Evidently, a few simple misunderstandings a long time ago caused people to spread rumors about them for a while after. They knew of the rumors about them but didn’t know how to stop them, other than being themselves. They continued to circulate and caused immense pain.

While you can educate yourself with outside information, regarding social situations, experience is the best way to truly understand a person and certain circumstances.

The finest way to live your life is unshackled by the opinions of others, whether those be about yourself or others. While it may hurt for people to believe and spread negative, false things about you, you know you. You understand who you are and others can’t comprehend you the same way.

Additionally, you must have empathy for those gossiped about. Keep an open mind and heart. Experience people and understand situations for yourself and you’ll be free of the toxic high school rumor mill that plagues us.

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