Gossip Can Be A Gremlin

Gossip Can Be A Gremlin
When I was younger, my parents would repeat a quote about sticks and stones. Maybe you've heard it — "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me".

Now that I'm older, I have given more thought to this quote. I know it's true that words can do nothing to physically harm us, but I do believe that words can hurt us emotionally. Hurtful and untrue words can cause tears, anger, and deep emotional wounds that feel like they will never heal. Gossip is often the weapon that inflicts these wounds.

Being emotionally hurt by the words of others is not specific to teens, it's for all of us. Communication is a powerful tool. Today, it comes in many forms such as conversations, photos, videos, texts, emails, tweets and posts. Anything that can convey some kind of message can be manipulated to hurt us or someone else.

Do you remember playing the game "Telephone"? Players sit in a circle and are supposed to whisper the same sentence to the person next to them. Seldom does that sentence come out the same way it started. Often, when it reaches the last player, it has new words added or left out.

Today, we can pass words and other information in a much bigger room with many more people. Social media is filled with millions of places to communicate. Many of these places don’t allow us the privacy of whispering into someone's ear, scribbling a note that can be torn into tiny pieces, or even talking to just one person on the phone. It’s easy for details to be changed or added, whether true, partially true, or fabricated lies.

In the social media world, the chance for erasing what you share is pretty slim. You might delete a post, video or picture, but it might have already been shared. Even when you mark a box that disallows sharing, someone can take a screen shot, snap a picture, or simply make up their own version. Don’t let that someone be you.

Everyone likes to tell their friends about the best new thing that has happened, but that best new tidbit can go beyond friends. Not everyone is your friend online, or offline for that matter. Just because they hear or see something about you, doesn’t mean they know you.

I will say this again, gossip doesn’t just affect teens. The things everyone shares can get twisted. We not only can twist things up for ourselves, we can also twist things up for friends by sharing something too soon, or sharing something we might have unintentionally embellished. This is where we can easily fall into a gossip gremlin trap. We feel like we have “breaking news” to share. We seem to think if others shared it, it is good to go. Viral is the direction it can travel. Think about what you personally share and ask before you share something about a friend.

We are not perfect beings; we are human beings who make mistakes and have misunderstandings. Gossip can be addicting. It can be confused with conversation, and some conversations are private. You don’t have to share everything about yourself or your friends.

Heartbreaking misunderstandings can result from gossip gremlins. These troublesome creatures don’t care about the truth or how gossip makes someone feel. What you share is often up for grabs.

All of us will continue to grow, just as ways of communication will continue to grow. We need to be careful in the way we communicate about ourselves and our friends.

Please join our forum to discuss your experiences with gossip, or other topics you wish to talk about. Your ideas and experiences can be lessons for all of us.

Have a great week!

(The first published appearance of the Sticks and Stones adage is reported to have been in March, 1862 in "The Christian Recorder”, and no particular author is attributed.)

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This content was written by Michelle Anne Cope. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Linda Tellier for details.