Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Did You Hear?

Here is the scenario.

Jane and John who have been dating awhile, decide to break up, or at least give their relationship a break. Being the modern tech savvy people that they are, they change their relationship status on the social media site Faceplant, from “in a relationship” to “single”. Friends of both offer condolences and support on Jane and John’s comments following the status update. A couple of friends and relatives of John, who didn’t like Jane offered congratulations and offers of helping to find “the perfect girl” on John’s page.

Then a cousin of John decides to jump in to offer support and defense of John’s honor. She mentions a supposed second love interest that had taken an interest in John and he her, that he should man up about it and isn’t it a shame that Jane never knew, especially as Jane is friends with “second love interest”.

The sister of Jane wonders the reason why now is the time for this news to be revealed now, after the break-up and in such a public way. The cousin tells the sister to butt out using language best suited for a PG 13 movie. The sister again wonders why Jane was never told by the cousin about this liaison with “second love interest” and John when it was occurring and is now only letting everyone know.

The “second love interest” who in reality never was a love interest at all, just a mutual friend of both Jane and John, seconds the question. The cousin replies that “the whole family knows what you did” and then calls “supposed second love interest” a hypocrite.

Then the boyfriend of the cousin jumps in. He pretty much insults everyone and their mothers, tosses in another wild accusation or two for good measure while cousin backs him up.

For those of you who think that I just revealed the plot for the next season of Jersey Shore, I didn’t. This is a variation of an actual conversation on a social media site. The facts are simple. Jane and John broke up and there is a mutual friend that has been accused of being involved with John by some people in John’s circle. The cousin never bothered to ask John if it was ok to discuss this matter, or to check the facts with him to see if it was true. She obviously didn’t do so to Jane, as has been already pointed out. This particular exchange certainly didn’t paint John in a positive light. It made him look like a cheater, Jane look like a victim, and the friend like a player. Naturally not a word of what the cousin was saying was true, or the boyfriend of the cousin. Jane and John wisely stayed out of the whole Jerry Springeresque mess.

What is sad about that little story is that kind of scenario happens all the time. That story is a very good example of what happens when people choose to gossip and do so maliciously. I find it maddening and extremely sad that people, especially grown ups who should no better would behave in such a way. There are no winners in that type of situation. The people who have been painted poorly are hurt that someone would say such lies about them, the people who are the ones who are supposed to be helped are embarrassed by the drama, and the people doing the gossip and getting ugly when being questioned about the matter are getting angry and are not coming across as kind, caring people. Everyone is upset, hurt or angry. All of it could have been avoided.

The old saying “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” Is a simple rule that we all could do well to follow more diligently. Talking bad about someone else, gossiping or outright lying only causes hurt and often does a pretty good job of displaying the person saying such things as someone who is hateful and mean. None of us want to be looked at in that light.

Now that we have things like Twitter, Facebook and other outlets to share information, we should remember to make sure we have switched on our integrity when we log on. Gossip is much easier to share, but should we be partakers of the feast that is gossip? Are those things that are being said true? Are we sure? Really sure? Is it something we would want said about us? Especially if we would know that the people saying these things only have a small portion of the information they are so sure they have all the facts about? See that is often what gossip is. Someone has only a small part of the story and they decide to fill in the rest themselves. 99% of the time the filler is wrong, and most of the time that filler is consisted of stuff to make someone look bad.

Sadly people do it, and likely always will, for a variety of reasons. Maybe they think we want to hear about it, maybe they think they are trying to help, maybe they want to make themselves feel superior in some way, maybe they are just plain mean. Whatever reason it is, I wish that gossip, especially the demeaning hurtful type would vanish from the planet.

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