People tend to stick to ‘first impression’, especially in an unpleasant rumor, and the general view of society in such instances might be unfair as it’s based on first impression. The outcome of first impression might last – even if the ‘subject’ of the rumor is acquitted by court later. This is the most dangerous consequence of rumor.
Many psychologists warn against entertaining rumors – especially those deemed offensive and circulated with the aim of defaming renowned figures. Public figures are caused to experience severe physical or emotional damage due to tendentious rumors.
A couple of days ago, the photo of a child with severe eye injury went viral on social media and the caption attached to the photo indicated the child was injured as a result of flying stones exposed on our roads after the recent storm. The person who edited the photo purposely concluded that the incident was the effect of negligence on the part of relevant authorities, indicating the child was a victim of negligence.
The post attracted several sympathizers and comments, and won the hearts of many people until they discovered the photo is a fake and the child is not even in Kuwait, while his injury has nothing to do with flying stones or the recent heavy rains. Nobody cared to know the truth about the picture, just because the first impression dominated and controlled many hearts.
Circulating false rumor is another form of telling lies, which is strictly forbidden by Islam. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said in the Hadith narrated by Abdullah Bin Masoud, “A man lies repeatedly and deliberately until he is recorded by God as a liar.”
I remember the concerned authority suspending an application that enabled any person at all to offend another person. The perpetrator could just save the telephone number of his victim, and then post negative comment with the latter’s ID. Many innocent people became victims to the deceptive acts of individuals who sought to distort their reputation.
In the era of communication revolution and widespread social media tools, abuse of social media is easily accessible to deceitful people and those with ill intentions. It takes no more than a whatsApp message or tweet to destroy somebody’s reputation – man or woman. Sadly, enforcing relevant laws will not put an end to such transgressions although it could help minimize such crimes to some extent, especially as the courts are still looking into a number of such related lawsuits.
For this reason, it is important for society to find a common ground concerning the best way to receive rumors or informal information. An individual does not need to pass or share negative information with others – as part of his social responsibility in confronting negative phenomenon.
Dear reader, you should know that sharing an unconfirmed story will render you accountable before God Almighty aside from facing the rigors of law, especially if the story is deemed offensive to others. You might be the next victim of such bad rumors, so take the issue seriously.
Honesty is the pillar of religion, cornerstone of discipline, and origin of virility (Ibrahim Al-Yazji)
By Yusuf Awad Al-Azmi