What are some common myths that many people have heard? Some people tell tall tales to others in order to pass the story on, usually to someone else who will believe it, whether consciously or not. Such a rumor is often referred to as a “rumor”.
A rumor is “an unfounded or exaggerated account of facts about a person, event, problem or situation in regard to which there is considerable social speculation.” There are many different types of rumors. Many are of the type known as “social myths”. Some of these social myths are used by individuals to justify their behavior. Rumors that serve as excuses or explanations for bad behavior are usually considered to be “wild rumors” by most individuals.
Rumors are extremely useful in terms of spreading propaganda amongst the target audience, the way the truth always lies in the details. In order to spread propaganda, one must first make a factual statement and then use the details to “prove” their statement true. The last element of the false/rumour is that it must become popular. In other words, the rumour must reach a level of general acceptance within a targeted group, in this case, the target audience. Rumours that reach popular acceptance among the targeted audience are known as “proofs”, or “factual statements”.
In order to prove arumours, especially amongst targeted groups, researchers conduct communication studies. During such studies, various types of gossip are examined. In all cases where a rumor was examined, it was found that most rumors were false. This study not only proves the value of a rumour in terms of communication, but also proves that most of the “rumsour” reaches a level of general acceptance among the targeted audience; where this “rumour” can act as a valid communication tool.
Research conducted on this subject has also found that most rumours start among friends and family. This is because people tend to share information about events that they themselves have little knowledge of or are unable to verify. This gossip spreads through the grapevine and is often passed on from one generation to another. A favourite method of spreading rumors amongst friends is to exaggerate the extent of the event. For example, if one friend says that a particular celebrity or political figure is cheating on his/her partner, others will be likely to add that this person has been seen making love to a horse.
Communication scholars theorize that such gossip is especially useful for groups in which power struggles occur. This is especially true in revolutionary situations where rumors can serve to take control and provide an outlet for those who wish to fight back. Therefore, spreading rumors during times of struggle can prove very helpful to the oppressed. Propaganda, when spread amongst targeted groups within society, serves as a tool of oppression and exploitation.