Friday, January 18, 2013

Overheard By a Friend of a Friend Who Wasn't There

House can tell you're lying. House KNOWS. House
does not care to be your friend, either.
I miss a lot of what the general public sees as 'excellent' TV. I've never seen more than about five minutes of any episode of House but I love Hugh Laurie. Anyway. This is about the whispering that goes on, the gossiping about others and our fascination with inventing stories or repeating invented stories. We might even add in a dash of how those stories morph and take on lives of their own adding another degree of hurt to the subject of the rumor. Or rumors.

Do you gossip? Do you follow gossip on the internet or TV or even on old-fashioned radio? Do you?

Why?

For god's sake why?

Rumors about movies, movie stars personal lives, sports figures, politicians, etc... Jeez. I'm not sure now where to begin.

Remember the game Telephone? Where you whisper a phrase into someone's ear, they in turn whisper it to someone else, the process repeats until the last person says what she heard and it bares only a vague resemblance (if any at all) to what was originally said. That's a game that's supposed to teach the players about how to listen, not talk.

If you've ever been the subject of a rumor - and who hasn't? - or even multiple rumors you know how hurtful they can be. When people gossip about you (or anyone) it's indicative of how empty a person's life is, or how little one's time is occupied with anything of importance, or even how jealous someone might be of the subject of the rumor.

Did you ever think of that? I mean, why do people gossip in the first place? They're bored with some aspect of their lives and it's fun to tear down someone who is disliked for some theoretically obvious reason. What it indicates is a lack of security in one's own life, don't you think?

Rumors can often be started simply and unintentionally. It could be someone overhearing the end of a joke. "And so Walter ended up in jail for the weekend. Who thought he had it in him?" The two people involved in the joke (the teller and the listener) laugh but they're maybe unaware of the third person, Gladys, who's overheard the end of the joke and thinks that the two are like her, that they're gossiping.

Gladys repeats the joke as 'real' and then adds her own bits to make herself seem as though she's interesting and involved. Pretty soon it gets around the circle that Walter's killed someone and will not be returning any time soon. Does it matter what the facts were?

Rumors can also be placed. Politicians do it, celebrities do it. Well, their press agents do, anyway.

The point I'm getting at is that what other people do isn't necessarily news and can hurt. Be careful what you say in public. Be aware of who is around when you're saying something that can be misinterpreted. Be aware that you can say things for deliberate misinterpretation by the mouth of the ears embedded in the walls.

Feel free to use Gladys in your stories. She can be hella useful in advancing a plot by adding complications. Then you can show how strong your main character is by believing or disbelieving the rumors. Will your MC confront the object of the rumor? Will she confront Gladys? What happens then?

A rumor is a story, after all.

So - ever started a rumor?  Ever (either on purpose or inadvertently) spread rumors or gossip? What about being the object of a rumor? Feel free to share your experience. Names, dates and locations aren't necessarily important.

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