Montag, 5. November 2007

rumours, the spice of life

given the very limited access most people (especially those living in rural areas) have to independent information about events and their limited ability to independently verify the information for themselves, rumours tend to abound here. and with the advent of the cell phone, these travel fast across the country by sms, in spite of timor telecom's best efforts at providing suboptimal phone services...

rumours, even the wildest ones, quickly become "fact," in the sense that people will shape their perceptions of reality according to the rumours, often for their own safety. if for example there is a rumour that there was a shooting with 3 dead in suburb X, people will act accordingly and avoid that area even if in actual fact there never was a shootout.

at times, this rumourmongering has been used to either mobilise crowds (e.g. when the aussies tried to capture major reinado in march this year) or to keep them off the streets (e.g. during the indonesian occupation when rumours of mysterious "ninja" sightings kept people inside while the special forces went about their dirty work).

of course not all rumours pertain to such serious issues, there's a lot of the "oh, did you hear so-and-so was seen with so-and-so at the beach last saturday"-chatter going around, not least in the small ex-pat community.

thus, following the maxim "when in rome, do as the romans do" i have decided to add a new column to my blog and call it 'malicious rumour of the day' in which i'll jot down the best rumour of the day. its all 100 % proof unverified and unverifiable grist to the rumour mill that is dili. take it with a grain of salt.

today's rumour: the increased helicopter activity by the austrailan defence force in the skies above timor leste is due to the fact that its november and they havent spent enough of their annual budget yet. like in any organisation, money's gotta burn so that the budget doesnt get cut next year.

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