Gossip. Most people, including myself, are guilty of speaking some form of it; all have been the object of gossip to some degree, but I have often wondered from where within our souls or conscience is the compulsion to slander, defame, hurt, and possibly destroy the reputations of even our closest friends and relatives, much less our enemies. Is it vengeance, jealousy, bitterness, anger, or for some sick form of entertainment? And what lasting reward could conceivably come from such intolerable actions against our peers?
The answer: Choosing wrong is easy. We are innately predisposed to unload our trunk of dirt at any opportunity we can, whether we have intentions to harm or not. Don’t believe me? Consult the internet.
JuicyCampus.com, a website that allowed students the ability to freely and anonymously post rants, gossip, slanderous hearsay, and potentially harmful threats all under the umbrella of “fun-loving entertainment”, as JuicyCampus’ creator Matt Ivester described, poisonously reigned over the college internet waves for a short period of time. Its content instigated enough frustration from students (victimized or not) on these campuses that some groups, particularly at Pepperdine University, began to speak out against this type of website calling for administrators to ban its use.
While university administrations could only control internet use within the campus, there was no means to control students’ use of this site off campus. However, the majority of students, sickened by the abuse that propagated from JuicyCampus, encouraged one another to abandon usage on the site, and as of February 5, 2009, JuicyCampus.com was curtailed for economic reasons.
Since February, the month of demise for JuicyCampus.com, a new generation of gossip sites have emerged, sites such as ACB.com (Anonymous Confession Board), CollegeTrashTalk.com, CampusGossip.com. Students can still anonymously post anything from others sexual exploits, secrets, etc., without little accountability or threat of libel repercussions. Thus, the blathering thread of lies and damaging behavior continues.
Unfortunately, since gossip sites protect the gossiper, there is seemingly no direct consequence to those participating in the slander, and thus, no motivation to choose right. It boils down simply to a matter of conscience, and since so many have suppressed their conscience by continually taking down moral boundaries, there seems no way to enlighten those guilty of partaking in gossip threads to the danger of their actions.
Slander can isolate and destroy its victim whether that which is spoken is true or not. It is a form of hate; hate rhetoric has been synonymous with murder. That is the level of brutality you are imposing on the life and emotional state of a peer when you subject them to slanderous gossip whether on a website or through word of mouth.
If you involve yourself in the activity of habitual gossip, you will never understand the weight of your ways until you yourself have become victimized. If you actively participate in gossip sites, choose right and stop.
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