Oh My Gosh, Did You Hear?
It may seem innocent or maybe you are genuinely concerned, but the question of “Did you hear about…” can ignite a wildfire of gossip and false information. Even if it is being asked out of concern, it can be overheard or misinterpreted by another person. I used to think I would never want to go back to high school because of all the gossiping and constant comparisons to our peers. Then I realized that I am almost 40, and the same things are still happening. Why is this?
It’s Getting Hot in Here
Human nature, right? We are curious about things we don’t know, about other peoples’ lives, we love drama (so long as it isn’t ours); it is how things like theater, novels, and everyone’s favorite reality TV became what they are. I can honestly say I have been on all sides of the wildfire: the one asking, the one being asked, the one listening, admittedly sometimes the one spreading it, and of course, the one being talked about. Am I proud I have participated? No. Does it feel good to be the topic of conversation? Again, no. With things like celebrity gossip blogs, influencers, social media, it seems like we have full access to everyone’s life and what is happening within the walls of their homes. In reality, it becomes like a giant game of telephone, the original story or situation becomes convoluted and full of other people’s opinions and versions of what really happened.
Conservation is Key
We’ve got to do better, like Smokey the Bear says, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” and yes I know he is speaking on literal forest fires, but the same goes for the verbal ones. Stop it before you continue to spread it. Consider if it is appropriate to ask the person or persons involved about what you have heard, do they even know these words are being said about them. Ask yourself if it is benefitting anyone or the situation by knowing or if you pass on what you’ve heard. Then consider what consequences allowing the spread to continue will have on the person it is about, whether it is true or not. As adults, children are constantly looking to us to learn social behaviors, and if we are gossiping or talking poorly about the other adults in our lives, it can pass the message to them that it’s okay to do this with their peers.