Why We Need Rumors

With an influx of rumors after the Timberview shooting, ENN investigated what makes a person need to spread a rumor.

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With an influx of rumors after the Timberview shooting, ENN investigated what makes a person need to spread a rumor.

In a society where instant gratification prevails, many turn to information that is easy and accessible in order to gain knowledge or comfort. According to those at the American Psychological Foundation, once people have been misinformed, they tend to believe it and act on it, even after the information has been accurately corrected.

 After the incident occurring at Timberview High School on October 6th, many discovered that the rumors that they were hearing were indeed far from the truth. This caused the Mansfield community to start questioning why rumors, like the ones heard on the day of the situation, were spread around causing more worry among everyone. 

 Social media plays a huge role in the spread of information, particularly rumors and spreading false information around to others. Many teens spend an abundance of their time on social media, so the rumors are easily accessible to read, view, and cause teens to start creating theories in their heads. Junior, Itohan Omorotionmwan, understands that social media is a source that many teens rely on for information.

 “We live in the digital age. Social media makes it faster for things to spread, because if something is formed online then you would never know if it’s true or not. People believe rumors because they have nothing else to believe. It comes down to word of mouth,” said Omorotionmwan.

The incident occurring at Timberview High School was a moving experience for many, especially Lake Ridge students. Many wanted answers at a time that they were simply unavailable. Isabella Rios, senior, explains that many felt peace with a quick answer to what was occurring at the time.

“They just wanted something to know. I think one kid says something and that kid says something to their friend, and then it just spreads by word of mouth really quickly. I think a lot of people feel proud that they know something that not everyone else knows, but what they know isn’t true. A kid heard something wrong,  and it just escalated from there,” said Rios.

Many of us naturally proceed with such actions in relation to the spread of misinformation, but few are aware of why the human brain does this. Psychology teacher, Heather Willson, understands why rumors are spread from a psychological perspective.

“Notifications trigger a dopamine release, which not only feels good but can ‘train’ you to take action and respond.  In general, there’s new research going on that states people are addicted to notifications on their phones.  The only true truth will be stated in court.  Everything else is probably skewed to support someone’s agenda,” said Willson.

Many students found out about many details regarding the incident earlier than many of their adult counterparts. With social media being accessible to the fingertips, it was easy for students to find out quicker than teachers, staff, and even parents. Student support counselor, Lori Cook, recalls her perspective on the incident as well as the many questions that went unanswered at the time.

“It’s just easier now for rumors to spread, because of social media. Everything is at your fingertips. One person takes it and it sounds great, and somebody just goes with it.I think really quickly people realized it was not a rumor, but then I think it started running rampid as to what the reasoning behind it was. Kids knew the reason way faster than adults did,” said Cook.

Each person beginning a rumor has their own particular motive, and their motive might be different than their peers. Psychology teacher, Heather Willson, analyzes some of the many reasons why people spread rumors.

“People spread rumors for various reasons.  Some do it to feel important.  Some do it out of boredom.  Some do it because they like the attention.  Some do it because they like to see the fall out.  Others do it because they’ve never learned the pain of false rumors and do it without ill intent.  Some just like to hear themselves talk.  And yet, there’s others that do it to influence you and to get something from you (think of it like underhanded persuasion),” said Willson.

Many details in relation to the incident occurring at Timberview are still unknown. Knowing facts about the ways that rumors are spread, and its relation to the human mind can make each person less susceptible to believing all that we hear.