Created By: JenBurdoo on November 2, 2012

Speed of Rumor

Rumor is (somehow) faster than word-of-mouth should be.

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Have we got this one? This is where the powers that be officially declare something -- but either everyone knows it within five minutes (despite it taking more than five minutes to read out) or everyone knows it already.. This is NOT a case of Gossip Evolution or a Not Secret; it's a case of communication being faster than light. It is particularly true of militaries and the Close-Knit Community.
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • November 2, 2012
    In many Pokemon games, everyone knows instantly when you defeat the current team, monster, or threat currently in the town.
  • November 2, 2012
    An example from Mc Auslan (and a possible page quote):
    "I looked dumbly at him for a moment. 'You knew about this? But, dammit, the Adjutant only mentioned it half an hour ago...'
    He looked at me pityingly as I took his list. Of course, I ought to have known better. All this stuff about Highlanders' second sight is nonsense; it's just first-class espionage, that's all.
  • November 2, 2012
    Terry Pratchett has made a number of comments on this throughout his novels. I can't find the quote right now, but at one point a character muses how useful rumor would be if it could be 'modulated with the truth' and used for proper communications.
  • November 2, 2012
    Wasn't there a reference to an experimental hyperdrive in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy that worked on the fastest thing in the known universe, bad news?
  • November 2, 2012
    Justified in many pieces of 21st century fiction, with the invention of the cell phone and internet.
  • November 2, 2012
    Mostly Harmless mentions that the only thing that travels faster than light in normal space is bad news; a race of spacefarers once made ships powered by bad news, but they were so unwelcome wherever they went that it was rarely worth being there.
  • November 2, 2012
    Perhaps a different title then, as "bad" or "false" news seems to appear a lot in this trope, if not every time. There is the quote, "A lie can make it halfway round the world before the truth can get its boots on," which is justified in real life by the fact that untruths about a politician or science, for example, are much quicker to say and propagate than the real story which, while true, is often more complex and less interesting.
  • November 2, 2012
    Possible page quote:

    Because, as we all know, word of mouth ALWAYS travels faster than your party!
    --HC Bailly, in nearly every JRPG Lets Play he ever does.
  • November 2, 2012
    Anyone have a copy of To Sail Beyond The Sunset handy? As I recall, this shows up when a town gossip tells Maureen's dad that Maureen is up to something with a boy. Maureen doesn't deny she had sex with him, but points out that there wasn't time for said gossip to have seen them headed for the grandstand and gotten to her dad's office.
  • November 2, 2012
    • In The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, when you speak to a guard after doing something that gives them a new line of dialogue, they'll say the new line before anything else. So, for example, you can be made Harbinger of the Companions in a little sea cave, and arrive at the nearest town before the Companions with you (the only ones who witnessed you being made Harbinger) get there, and the first guard will still greet you as Harbinger of the Companions.

    • Lampshaded in the first Harry Potter computer game. After catching the Remembrall and being made Gryffindor Seeker, the next part of the game involves you going to visit Hagrid. One of the first things he greets you with is, "Congratulations on making the Quidditch team! Word travels fast around Hogwarts."
  • November 3, 2012
    @ zarpaulus In The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, bad news travels so fast that someone built an FTL drive powered by it. However, they were so unwelcome wherever they went there was no point.
  • November 3, 2012
    @dvorak: Did you know you're the third person in this YKTTW to bring up that example?
  • November 4, 2012
    Another quote:
    "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes." -- Mark Twain
  • November 4, 2012
    So I thought I recognized this from The Grand List Of Console Role Playing Game Cliches, and lo and behold when I go to look it up I see a link to News Travels Fast.
  • November 4, 2012
    Quick, then, add the examples here to News Travels Fast and forget about this thingy here.