HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
June 18, 2007, Herald Journal

Gossip is just that


Working at a newspaper, it’s my job to distinguish fact from fiction. Unfortunately, small towns tend to have a lot of gossip with very few facts behind it.

I’ve just learned to take everything with a grain of salt, and not always trust the source.

The most recent gossip was that a little old lady started the fire at the Niesen’s Liquor store location. I was even told they heard this on a radio station.

Well, if they heard it on the radio, it must be true, right? After first laughing hysterically, my editor got on the phone with the sheriff’s department to find this is NOT true.

What little old lady would have the heart to do such a thing? But that’s just small town gossip for you.

The list is endless and I can’t repeat it all, otherwise, the gossip would only continue.

Citizens should censor themselves before “reporting” on such falsities.

Sometimes gossip is just enough for a good laugh, but when it ruins reputations and hurts people’s feelings, then it’s gone way too far.

Gossip gets frustrating because the stories begin playing with an individual’s mind. “Is it true?” “I can’t believe that.” “Ohmigosh!” After a while, the fiction becomes fact, if only in the brain.

It’s the whole telephone idea that can turn fact into fiction in such a hurry. First, something is the size of a pinhead, next it’s blown up to the size of a bowling ball.

It all stems from human interest in other people’s lives. Everybody had to be in everyone else’s business. As if it’s any of their concern.

Take Paris Hilton for example. Who is she and what did she do to deserve such publicity? Katie Couric is even talking about her. Wow!

Big deal, so she’s in jail. We don’t need to be talking about it every day on every newscast. This isn’t the OJ Simpson trial, which, may I add, was completely sensationalized.

Even if Paris Hilton isn’t worthy of such public attention, she gets it because people are nosy.

Christianity even condemns all kinds of gossip, according to Wickipedia. According to the epistle to the Romans, gossipers, or who the Bible refers to as backbiters, are listed in the same category as murderers, fornicators, and “haters of God,” and anyone who commits such things is worthy of death.

Ask yourself, “Am I a backbiter?”

Know the facts. Before anyone shoots off their mouths, at least consider the possibility that it might only be a rumor. Unless you’ve seen it for yourself, there is no way to be absolutely sure it actually happened.

As quoted from Eleanor Roosevelt, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”