The first article I wrote for the SocJournal set the tone for my general opinion in regards to social media and online “friends.” I discussed the concept of cyber “friends” with a dear friend of mine when he offered up a “lesson learned” story which had recently taken place.
To steal a phrase from Estelle Getty of The Golden Girls fame: Picture it, an innocent conversation happening between a coach and an adult student. The coach comments upon a Facebook message written in regards to their previous meeting. The subject is unimportant, but the implications are far-reaching.
A series of messages posted on an electronic “wall” followed, and quickly sparked outrage and hurt. What started out as simple, yet exaggerated message turned into a rant which attempted to strike out and hurt the perceived aggressors. Yet, the attack not only did damage to the reputation of the poster, but it also spread malicious words to those who had little to do with the original transgression.
I assume rumors have been around as long as human communication itself. While today we tend to read blogs detailing the sloppy actions of celebrities, we also crave to know the ups, but especially the downs, of people with whom we are more familiar. While everyone loves an underdog, they love someone falling flat on their metaphorical faces even more. Why then do we in modern society get taken in by rumor mills? Why do we wish to spread malicious gossip about our friends, family and coworkers in order to attempt to gain acceptance?
Rumors are, in my opinion, a bizarre side effect to socialization. In order to maintain a peaceful society, members must be able to share common experiences, feelings, emotions and actions. The spreading of rumors is most definitely a collective action which helps two or more individuals relate. When we see an article outlining the exploits of a drunken celebrity, we are given the chance to hold ourselves up to the standard of the rich and famous and, in some cases, come out the better party. While this may not be the exact motivation in every instance, to me it rings true. For people who wish to escape spending their life as a “have-not,” it is all too refreshing to see the rich and powerful fall.
Moving back to more local matters, it seems that the cascade of rumors my comrade was engulfed into appeared to die out. Even with the best of intentions, we cannot help but get caught up in a frenzy of gossip. And of course, once this goes to the internet, it is almost like a digital wildfire waiting to spread to as many unsuspecting victims as possible. Of course, if you really want to know something crazy, I heard a great story about the guy at the next desk…