Not too long ago I engaged in a marathon I’d heard of but never actually sat still long enough to appreciate.
This marathon came by way of some down time; a need to occupy my time. Thanks to good ol’ Netflix I marathoned through a few seasons of the once-popular “Gossip Girl.”
I was raising babies during the time of the show’s release in 2007, so television watching was at a minimum. Most times when I actually did sit to watch TV, I’d be asleep in minutes.
As I watched the show I became intrigued by a number of things. Namely and most importantly for the purpose of this piece was “Gossip Girl” was the ghost writer who would pen things without anyone having the knowledge who it was.
Being a writer myself, I thought about how that might be. To travel about town offering feedback on businesses, restaurants and the like, all the while without anyone knowing who it was.
The thing about that kind of power is that it can have the potential to ruin someone’s life.
Think that’s an over statement; well it’s not.
Business owners, as well as community members in this town know the power of word of mouth, accurate or not with the addition of Social Media, “news” in general can spread like wildfire.
Multiple times as a news staff we are tipped off by something someone “heard” or read on social media only to learn facts are inaccurate or quite simply false.
Gossip is not news and while some would like for that to be the case, we remain committed to being fact driven.
This brings me to my real point in all of this, the power of gossip in a small town.
Over the weekend I happened to have the good fortune to meet up with an old friend at a local restaurant. Sitting together, enjoying some live music and a few drinks, it was quite simply just a good time. Conversation ensued and as it did someone made mention of the fact that they had recently learned this friend was a lesbian.
Now before everyone gets crazy shooting e-mails and phone calls, I must be clear on one simple thing: I could care less either way on who my friend is attracted to. So much so that up until this was shared with me a few weeks prior (from another friend), I’d never given it a minute of thought and why would I?
As the story goes (in true Gossip Girl fashion), a girlfriend shared that she had been out with a few friends and someone she knew really “hit it off” with the girlfriend I met with last weekend. And so the tales of my friend the lesbian began … or so I thought.
When this was stated over the weekend, my girlfriend quickly corrected the person stating the fact, which indeed was inaccurate. Within minutes we all began talking, retracing the where I had heard this, while I shared with my girlfriend much of what I’ve said here. She quickly shared that while it was a very inaccurate rumor, it was also one she’d lived with most of her life.
I shared with her how much I hate gossip and how badly I felt that I had even repeated this to my partner. Being the gracious and forgiving person which she is she said, “Don’t worry about it, but if you could squash that story about me, I’d be more than cool with that.”
“Noted!” I replied back.
What I love about this story and one of the truest lessons was the grace which she demonstrated as a group of us talked about the power of gossip. Not once was she defensive or overly dramatic by way of explaining herself – she didn’t need to. She quite simply let on that while she’d lived a long time with this rumor she fancied men over women.
So here’s my point/lesson, which I need to work at exercising myself. Mind your business. That’s the long and the short of it all. If it’s not your story then don’t tell it, leave that to the person directly connected to and/or affected by the facts.
And for my girlfriend, she’s just fine. Resilient as well as full of grace. I’m grateful not just for her friendship, but her example as well.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 209-847-3021.