Two years ago, the thought of about 1,400 of my academic peers knowing every personal detail of my romantic life might have scared me. Granted, two years ago my romantic life could be reduced to brief moments of making out with a cute boy on a park bench while he reminded me not to touch his hair. My sexual habits have since evolved into something people would actually gossip about, which is convenient for Kalamazoo College as the student body run on equal parts passion, stress and gossip. At Kalamazoo College, gossip spreads like a virus, rapidly afflicting the host, prompting them to lower their voice and utter, “Iʼm going to tell you something that you canʼt tell anyone else.” Of course the newly infected student feels the effects of the gossip pumping through their airways and bloodstream, they have no other choice but to go to their study group and utter, “Guys, youʼll never guess what I just heard.” The process overtakes the small student body almost immediately and within 48 hours, the entire campus is infected much to the original hostʼs dismay.
Perhaps my analysis of Kʼs gossip culture is a bit dark. For the most part this passing of knowledge is harmless and reputations are rarely destroyed or even dented. Actually I find it a bit fun. Just when you feel like youʼre sick of annotating a thirty-page philosophy article, your phone will dance in your pocket and a text announcing, “Youʼll never guess what Bret said to me last night” will brighten your day and excite you. Itʼs like living in one of those gossip magazines you peruse at a grocery store checkout.
The downside, as Iʼve referenced before, is keeping your love life secret is futile. Even if you think people donʼt know, they know. Even if nothing is going on with you, people are assuming something is going on. My history on this campus has been picked apart and analyzed by anyone who cares. If you cornered one of my friends at a social event theyʼd probably give you a comprehensive timeline of every one of my romantic interests/conquests. If Iʼm ever in a Highly Gossipy Situation (or HGS) where Iʼm at risk of being gossiped about, I usually just like to set the record straight with those close to me. “Hey, just so you know, I am now officially in a committed relationship with whatʼs-his-face, so whatever you do, tell everyone.”