Bullies, Rumors, Gossip, and Smears

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Gossip is purely judgmental and includes hasty generalizations about the target’s character and private life, which has nothing to do with the school, community, or workplace. The purpose of gossip is to control the target’s status by demoting the target on the social hierarchy.

Another purpose of gossip is to justify any punishment of the target by promoting a collective view that the victim doesn’t deserve respect, dignity, or humanity, but only abuse and hostility.

 And once a target is viewed to deserve abuse, others will always escalate it!

Gossip has another benefit. It tightens group connections, gives higher status to the people who are privy to the negative information, and sets expectations and norms in the group as to how they should treat the target.

Through gossip, the group establishes, maintains, or changes social infrastructures. Gossip promotes unity and shared negative perceptions of the target. With the use of it, the group will foster justification for hostility. Therefore, no one in the group considers their actions as bullying. They will only say that the target “deserves it” and say they were reacting to “an evil enemy.”

People tell others to keep it secret, but they also ask them to inform the group of any new information and updates that concern their target.

Realize that it serves to provide bullies reaffirmations that their perceptions of the target are correct, that the target deserves abuse.

Gossipers will often cover their bad behavior with a slight confession of guilt by beginning their sentences with things like,

“I know I shouldn’t say this, but…”

“Poor thing…”

“Bless her heart…”

 They will acknowledge that the target is a human being, but only because this gives them the green light to go on talking and helps them to feel less like the creeps they are.

gossip rumors lies talk

It’s true that reputation doesn’t equal character. But it can effect life. Understand that the rumors may, in fact, be false and there may be zero credible evidence to back them up. But if pure speculation best fits the bullies’ goals, that’s what they will go along with.

In the late stages of gossip, all bystanders will become willing co-conspirators. Gossip brings scandal, which means to assassinate the target’s character, integrity, mental fitness, and worth as a student, worker, neighbor, or human being.

Anyone who questions or disbelieves the lies will immediately become an object of bullying as well. Nobody wants to be isolated, so this forces others to stay in line with the running narrative.

And if the target attempts to defend himself or speak out against the abuse, it will be used against him.

Unfortunately, at this stage, the only way for the target to ensure his safety and escape the abuse is to leave the toxic environment and go to a new place where he can start anew, establish new connections, and reinvent himself.

Remember the character, Chris Chambers, in the movie “Stand by Me.” Although he was a great kid, he was considered a rogue and a thief. Remember the scene where he was crying to his friend, Gordy, telling him about how he got his bad name and wishing he could go somewhere where no one knew him.

During the conversation, the character of Chris Chambers, played by River Phoenix, tearfully tells Gordy that a member of staff took the lunch money out of the teal but he got blamed for it solely because of his family name. It was heartbreaking to watch.

And sadly, that happens a lot. In a majority of cases, targets must leave the school, company, or community to heal and to rebuild their lives.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

20 thoughts on “Bullies, Rumors, Gossip, and Smears

  1. Ruth Muyskens says:

    Boy, is this true or what!? That is one reason why I HATE gossip SO MUCH! Oh my goodness, I have been harmed and hurt by women’s and men’s gossip, you wouldn’t believe it. It is one of the WORST traits of humans. It’s true, they, the “in group” gang up on the target and gossip is the easiest thing to slip into, rather than making small talk or an honest conversation. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Stella Reddy says:

    Smear campaigns, especially online in websites made just for that purpose, is not something I would wish on anyone. Moving away does help, but you can’t escape the internet. All you hope for is people who find them, will see it for what is is, pure gossip, rumor, smears and bullying! I have come to accept it and trying to move on. What else can ya do?

    • cheriewhite says:

      I totally understand, Stella. There used to be a website named “Topix” and I was slandered on it many times. Thank goodness they finally shut it down about 5 years ago! But there are so many gossips on the internet and it’s sad. Hopefully the bullies don’t know where you moved to.

  3. Kym Gordon Moore says:

    OMG, how true:
    Gossipers will often cover their bad behavior with a slight confession of guilt by beginning their sentences with things like,
    “I know I shouldn’t say this, but…”
    “Poor thing…”
    “Bless her heart…”

    Sly and malicious little devils aren’t they??? 🤨😲😝 Great post my friend. 🥰💝🤗🌺🌟

  4. LaShelle says:

    I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of gossip as well as the product of it. I feel like it runs rampant in families and unfortunately hurts so many people!

  5. Sheila “Spiral Sister” Murrey says:

    My mom always taught me to listen to any new people I would meet and if they gossiped about others, to run, because one day they would gossip about me! That knowledge (and practice) has served me well too! No gossip zone here! Great post, and stories! ❤️🦋🌀

    • cheriewhite says:

      Thank you so much, Sheila. 💖 My mom and grandmothers taught me the same and I heed it even today. A person’s actions and words say so much about who they are.

  6. Sara Lynn says:

    My reputation at Charles Grandison Finney High School was trash, all because a classmate, “Rachel”, forced me to answer uncomfortable questions, threatening assault or expulsion if I didn’t do so. Then she would use what she made me tell her to smear my wholesome, innocent reputation just to boost her own. This is the same girl whose brother, “Louis”, beat and nearly raped me later.

    Thirty years later, I still suffer PTSD…cos I wasn’t allowed to stand up for myself or report the incidents.

    • Cherie White says:

      My heart goes out to you, Sara. I know exactly what that’s like because I experience it in middle school myself. Know that Rachel and the others are the ones who had the issues, not you. Evil people will slander you and make you out to be the bad one or the weird one. Know yourself, sweetie. Know yourself enough to know that you’re not and never were what they made you out to be. Sending warm thoughts your way.

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