Have you ever noticed whenever our city/state/country is faced with a crisis we have a habit of not only relaying mutual feelings of fear which are genuine and stem from a place of uncertainty but we also start to trace, send and reproduce a whole range of exaggerated stories and unconfirmed rumours?

What you have here is called the Chinese whispers effect. You are told a piece of information of which you tell another person and so forth and so forth, but somewhere along the line, communication gets distorted and the original info mutates into something much bigger and stronger than the initial teller could have imagined.

For example, what begins as a man losing his pet dog, ends in a man having his pet dog stolen by an angry shark who escaped from the sea after he was outcast by the King Pin Shark who was angry at him for eating all the sea’s supply of fish. As such, the angry shark stole the dog to take back to the King Pin Shark as an offering of peace. Catch my drift?!

While the real events of the day are being reported and images displayed at regular intervals of the day via the 1 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 10 o’clock news, we create our own version of events alongside it; presenting a parallel universe based upon our wildest fears and fantasies. You would only have had to scour Twitter over the past few days to see this concept come to fruition.  Echoes of I heard such a place was being looted and I heard there was masked men littering the streets and I heard the whole borough is now on fire rippled through the Twitterstratosphere. It was at this point I  noticed a subsequent barrage of tweets refuting claims and pleading with fellow twitter heads to stop publishing information unless it had been confirmed.



You see, people were beginning to get annoyed. If you, like me have family and friends scattered all over London (and now as yesterday showed us towards the north of England) your levels of worry on a scale of 1 to 10 were already at 20 and any unconfirmed story was added stress that was unwarranted.

Though we are all guilty of it. By nature we put our own twist on things so that it appears we were the first to grab hold of that information and tell the world about it. It’s identifiable in glossy tabloid magazines, as they all claim to have the exclusive pictures or celebrity stories such as when the Beckham’s revealed their baby daughter’s name. It’s one simple story but can be stretched in a number of ways. So one magazine had the reasoning behind the name, another had what other celebrities thought about it and the rest I’m sure you can imagine. The need to be a part of everything conflicts with the need to set yourself apart. It’s the difference between telling the story and listening.

Some call it scaremongering and others say it’s a reaction to an extreme action, sort of like nervously laughing when something tragic happens. I think it’s because in order to try to understand something we must verbally analyse and discuss the information before we fully accept it. It’s another example of human behaviour integrating its way into society’s code and conventions.

But what do you think?

Do you think this is part of human nature?

Or do you know people who actively exaggerate or twist a story?

Let the FAB Team know what you think!

3 Responses

  1. Will

    Great Blog post! It was particularly interesting watching twitter from a small city just outside Birmingham (Worcester) where everyone knows each other, a riot would be a few smashed windows and anyone who would actually want to riot would get a 20 min train to Birmingham. Yet the rumours on twitter were going mental “it’s kicked off in Worcester!” “Worcester pc world has just been robbed!” “my nans house just got broken in to #worcester”. Nothing happened and nothing was ever going to happen here – yet people were calling each other all night believing them.

  2. Suby

    If it human nature, don’t you think it such a shame this “human nature” not getting any better but worse. Now with the advent of twitter, FB and the others, it just seems to be getting worse (or better depending on who you are talking to).

    We all exaggerate stories at one point or another, embellishing the story to make it (or is it us) sound like the ones who have the most and best stories. Twitterville and FBville not making this any easier, we all want our fans or “friends” to all hang unto our every twits of posts.

    So is it all part of human nature? Ofcourse. Do we all have to succumb to this? Speaking for myself, I know I don’t but some may say I just am not curious enough…. Aaarrrgggghh, there just is no winning here is there?

  3. Daphne

    Great post. I just think it’s a society of sensationalism, everything has to be exaggerated because we are exposed to soo much and not much can shock us anymore. But also i think that when things like this happen people feel very helpless and all they know to do is talk, which is why people twist things because they know it will get people talking…


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