“Psst! Did you read about the message about (insert name here)?”

This was what some of my friends asked me when they read something about someone (whom they had never met, by the way!)

“How could that person say such things?”

“Did you know what that person said to the other person?”

“That person was so rude!”

“I hope karma gives that person what he/she deserves!”

Does any of these sound familiar? Most likely yes! And that’s because it’s just another day of so-called “Breaking News” popping up in one of your many group chats (such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc).

Did you know that in Brunei, spreading false information that could create chaos and anxiety among the public is an offence? In fact, offenders can be charged under Section 34 of the Public Order Act, Cap 148, where the penalty is a maximum of three years’ imprisonment or a fine of BND 3,000.

This is what I remind myself each time I see another unverified message pop up in one of the many WhatsApp group chats.

And it’s for this reason that I choose NOT to be part of the vicious rumour-mongering machinery and social media keyboard warrior gang.

By now you’re probably wondering what viralled message I am referring to.

The truth of the matter is that it DOES NOT MATTER and SHOULD NOT MATTER! (Keep reading to find out why I said this.)

The Internet Doesn’t Forget

In a report that appeared on The Wall Street Journal, it was pointed out that people, especially the youth, are at greater risk today of being damaged by gossip.

“In the past, what took the sting out of gossip was that it was impermanent, localised and would disappear with fading memories,” says Daniel Solove, a professor at George Washington University Law School. “Now gossip is everywhere and permanent because the Internet doesn’t forget.”

Years ago, people who were picked on or gossiped about in high school could graduate, move away and start fresh.

“These days, the gossip follows them. It’s online forever,” says Professor Solove, who wrote a book entitled ‘The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet’.

How would you like it if people were spreading misinformation or ‘diss-information’ about you by airing all your dirty laundry in public.

More often than not, people (who you have never met in your life) are suddenly experts on your life, regardless if they were true or not.

How To Stop Gossip Immediately

When someone is trying to involve you in an offensive diatribe relating to someone else, the best thing to ask is: Why are you telling me this?

Psychologists say that this is effective for a couple of reason, according to an online report.

First, the question immediately disrupts any self-serving motive from the gossiper. Second, the phrase forces them to face the fact that you’re probably none-too-happy about being involved.

Almost every time, the person initiating the gossip will be taken aback by the question. Almost every time, they will not have a good excuse as to why they are including you in the conversation.

Based upon their response it’s much easier to simply state: “I don’t wish to be involved” or “You should discuss this with him/her personally.”

Share This Story

If you would want to drop a subtle hint to that one particular gossiper in your group chat about what you read here today, perhaps you could share a link to this article.

Who knows? You could very well be the one to finally put a stop to all the madness! Will you take up this challenge?

Neue can be reached via Instagram and Facebook.

*Further reading: Click here to check out Neue’s past article – Spreading rumours on social media: Why do people do it?