Did You Hear the Rumor?

Adults on campus offer advice on overcoming gossip


Photo: Lucy Sinegal

Student sends rumor to other student.

Gossip is inevitable in middle school, even at University Prep. However, there are a couple of steps you can take to improve your experience.
“Gossip is going to happen, you know, it’s inevitable. But I think we can do better in supporting each other and being kind and empathize. And practicing these skills would make it easier as we go,” Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Program Manager Flor Hernandez Morales said.
Technology has played into this era’s struggle.
“It’s so much easier to say something about someone on a group chat, and have, you know, ten people find out all at once,” counselor Lindsay Metcalfe said.
This and the pandemic have not created an easy battle.
“The pandemic definitely affected how we relate to each other because we haven’t been around each other for a while. And so, learning those social skills and learning how to relate to each other,” Hernandez Morales said.
More broadly, Metcalfe has an idea as to why gossip may be happening.
Social awareness “combined with the curiosity about other people’s lives, I think it is pretty typical for friends to talk about other friends, for friends to talk about people they don’t particularly like. And sometimes it comes from a place of interest and wondering and sometimes it comes from a place of ‘I don’t like this person, and so I’m going to say some things that maybe aren’t very kind,’” Metcalfe said.
Director of Social Emotional Learning Emily Schorr Lesnick agrees with this sentiment.
“I think sometimes people use gossip as a way to connect, hoping it will have a positive effect. But gossip can be dangerous,” Director of Social Emotional Learning Emily Schorr Lesnick said.
However, no matter the circumstance, the key to moving past a gossip-filled situation is to make sure you aren’t filtering your thoughts, according to Metcalfe.
“If you can’t be your authentic self in front of somebody who’s supposed to be your friend, then that’s something to pay attention to,” Metcalfe said.
Then, evaluate.
“I actually really try to get people to approach their friendships as between individuals. So ‘How is this one specific other person treating me right now?’ instead of, ‘How is the group treating me?’” Metcalfe said. “And that feels more manageable than ‘Everybody is talking about me.’”
If you find yourself having trouble with a particular person, don’t be afraid to have a conversation.
“Stating the fact that like, ‘This is how I feel and I know you might feel different, but can we have a conversation about it? And can we have a conversation about how we can support each other or maybe find systems of support for ourselves that might not include each other, right?’” Hernandez Morales said.
Finally, don’t be afraid to seek support.
“Talking to your parents or a trusted adult at school can help you try to figure out what your next step should be. That doesn’t mean that the adult swoops in and solves the problem or gets that person in trouble or whatever else, but just getting an outside opinion can be helpful,” Metcalfe said.
She added that it is important to remember that middle school doesn’t last forever.
“Middle school can be a tough part of life and it’s temporary. And so just doing your best to be good to other people is never the wrong decision,” Metcalfe said.