Rumor mill


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Negrenses have come to know that Governor Agustin Perdices has not been in the best of health lately. That is probably why ugly rumors about Governor Agustin Perdices’ supposed death health have spread like wildfire in the last few days. The rumor spread fast through text messaging.{{more}}

Some text messages simply asked to confirm the rumor. Other messages said the Governor was dead. Still, others asked the readers to pray for the Governor’s soul. In no time, the Dumaguete MetroPost was barraged with text messages and calls seeking confirmation of the rumor.

Now, we know that there was no truth to the rumor at all. The Governor is alive and is recuperating from his illness in Manila. He looks forward to being back in Dumaguete after All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day.

Interestingly, rumors happen anywhere. Often, they’re a mere creation of someone with a dark motive, aided by a misinformed person. But unless corrected, rumors have a way of spreading distrust in an organization and in our leaders.

Nick DiFonzo, rumor psychologist at the Rochester Institute of Technology and author of The Watercooler Effect: An Indispensable Guide to Understanding and Harnessing the Power of Rumors, says rumors “can last forever–but if they’re handled effectively, they can die off.” His suggestion to stop rumors is to go to the “super-spreaders,” issue a detailed refutation and ask them to spread that. Limit the uncertainty people are experiencing. State a timeline in which news will come out. And respond to rumors quickly based on the truth. If you deny something that’s true, you’ll eventually be found out and lose all power to rebut rumors later.”

The scenario now at the Province is that we only know what is happening after an ugly rumor breaks out. The Governor’s health is very much a public concern, especially because he himself became Governor by assuming the post of his deceased predecessor. The best the Province can do is to keep the public regularly informed of the developments concerning the Governor’s health, regardless of whether they need it or not. This need not come in the form of an official statement, but this information may be inserted in press releases about the developments at the Capitol.

Rumors are a natural part of life. We have to live with their positive and negative effects. The best approach is to manage them ethically and properly.

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