Rumors are power for the people who use them. Sometimes rumors are innocent and are just information about some event or some person. At other times they can take more a malicious tone and be used to damage and hurt another person. If you are caught up in the "rumor mill" you may be wondering what some of the motivations are and why people use these methods.
First, we should be honest about rumors and their purpose. Rumors do serve an important function for people. Rumors can be used to share information about potential threats, resources and problems. If someone is dangerous, a rumor can warn others that this person should be avoided at all costs.
Secondly, rumors can be used to position and create alignment among groups. People send signals about who they support and who they don't through the use of rumors. We try and build our loyalties by who we praise and create boundaries of information to those we don't like.
A problem does arise when we begin to use rumors to unfairly punish others that are exercising their rights. For example, if we are trying to hurt someone that disagrees with us then we are being unjust. Rumors can be every bit as abusive as hitting someone. The rumor turns from information into a direct attempt to cause emotional pain.
Likewise, we may also use rumors to project our personal pain onto unwitting people. It is important focus our pain on improvement and development and not on the punishment of others who have done us no harm. Rumors should not be a type of "blood letting" on others.
Rumors can be beneficial or they can be hurtful. When beneficial they provide accurate information while when harmful they provide miscued information designed to damage and hurt other people. The next time you are going to repeat a private conversation or invent a new "secret" about someone ensure that you are not going to damage how you will view yourself.