Gossip Guard: Spreadsheet Tracks the Spread

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Maya Benjamin, Managing Editor

Happy February, Gerry’s Landing-ers! Although the January blues have passed, the winter continues to rage on, and the pandemic has been following suit.

One of my sources told me a group of junior girls created a spreadsheet to track community members who tested positive or were exposed to COVID. According to one creator, Madeleine Brodeur ’23, her initial intention was to protect herself from exposing her loved ones, including two friends who couldn’t leave for semesters away without negative tests, by tracking confirmed COVID cases and exposures. In early December, however, Madeleine said other juniors began adding unconfirmed cases to the spreadsheet. We spoke to Madeleine to find out more.

What spreads faster: COVID or gossip? Bundle up and mask up, Gerry’s Landing-ers! It’s chilly out there.

XOXO,
Gossip Guard

 

How has the initial intention of the spreadsheet changed over the past month?

The spreadsheet was a way for people, at least for me, to be aware of who has COVID so we can be safe because I have grandparents that I’m constantly exposed to at home. I have to be really careful around them.

Do you think the spreadsheet is still going through its initial plan of keeping students aware, or has it become a vehicle for gossip?

As soon as fellow creators started putting people on the predictions list, [a list of people who have been COVID close contacts, who had no idea about the spreadsheet, I stopped using it and haven’t looked at it since. I think it’s a matter of balancing out the social effects versus our health, and that’s up to you to what you prioritize. The spreadsheet is now other people’s projects for gossip.

How many people do you think have looked at or contributed to it?

Upwards of 15 have contributed. Over 20 people have looked at it. It has all stayed within the junior class.

After watching the spreadsheet become what it is now, do you think a COVID gossip culture is prevalent at BB&N?

There is a COVID gossip culture at BB&N, which can be detrimental to the person being gossiped about who might not have COVID at all, but also detrimental to the audience of people around them, who form unfactual opinions on others based on their COVID status. The spreadsheet’s transformation has shown that there is a gossip culture prevalent with COVID. Even if the spreadsheet spawned out of helping out people’s safety, it’s become a vessel for rumors.