I suppose I’m as vulnerable to a titillating morsel of gossip as the next guy. Now, don’t go getting all righteous on me and insist you hate gossip and never ever listen or pass the stuff. I detest it also and refrain from participating in the practice; but, I must admit that occasionally I listen just because I’m interested in hearing what is being said. And, I have been known to share an interesting tidbit with a friend. What I don’t do is scurry out the door looking for an opportunity to share the juicy morsel with someone else…or with as many someone else’s as I can.
As I write this, I have in mind an account that perfectly illustrates the nature of gossip. I wanted to detail it here to show the vileness and pointlessness of the stuff. However, every attempt I made in detailing it ended with me deleting the text. I couldn’t do it without passing it along again.
It is so dang easy to be snared in gossip’s grip in this age of information technology. The newspapers and television shows of yesteryear were bad enough, but today we have universal access to the virtual world and universal assimilation of any piece of garbage that is carelessly tossed in there. The problem is, I believe the majority of folks passing this gossip are relatively innocent folks.
There is an old adage that says, “If it’s printed in the book, it’s gotta be true.” For some reason the printed page seems to establish some sort of validity on anything that has been written. People are basically trusting by nature. We want our information to be true. We want to be able to go somewhere and read the truth; after all, we for some reason don’t trust the information shared by word of mouth. But, if it is recorded on the written page, perhaps then we can trust the page.
I read a biography of our sixteenth president. It appears Lincoln faced a hostile press far more vicious than any faced by our current presidents. It was amazing the depth of partisan bias and all out lies and slander possessed by the press of the 19th Century. How in the world did the common man ferret out the truth from such blatant doggerel? Our ancestors certainly must have been people of discerning capabilities to separate the lies from the truth. Apparently, they were able to do that, and still advance the cause and spirit of our democracy. How fortunate for us.
I'm concerned that the people of our era are overwhelmed with information that is at most questionable. Not only are there multitudes of printed sources of this information, each person has instant access to the gossip stream directly from the world-wide web, just by thumbing on the cellphone. The people of Lincoln’s age were faced with the sporadic publication in the newspaper…a paper which was read and discussed and mulled over between issues. There was time to digest what was said and to get impressions from friends and associates. Over a period of time, the truth of the page was often either established or called into question. Today’s population does not have that luxury. Information flows forth as an open fire-hydrant, forcing instant assimilation and moving the story down the line with new information almost instantly.
We are faced with a daunting task. We must somehow discern the truth in this flood of information. That is not an easy task, for there are reputable and professional outlets on every side of an agenda. Often the truth is conveyed under the spin of a political agenda. Now we find we must be savvy in the art of spin. So, do you watch Fox News or MSNBC? To protest and say you never watch one of those stations because they are not truthful because of your political leaning may not be conducive to getting the unspun truth. Of course, you have to watch both.
What I rarely do is read the partisan blogs which are prevalent on the internet. If I do read them, it is for entertainment value alone and not as a quest for truth or substance. And, I endeavor to never pass on the stuff which is posted there. Oops, but I have occasionally done just that, believing it was true. There have been a few occasions where my passion has been captured by the subject and I errantly passed along a story I believed to be correct. Dang it! I hate when that happens. So, I’ve decided to just not pass stuff along, unless I wrote it or find it has been vetted. However, even with the vetting process one needs to check the vetting sources for bias. It just never ends.
I really detest gossip. And, hate it even more when I find I have unknowingly been a party to it. The Bible has this word to say about gossip, “The words of gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts (Prov 26:22.)” Hmmm…that’s interesting. I guess that means gossip really stinks. It must be true. It’s written in the book.