Be careful what you repeat

Published 6:25 am Monday, February 12, 2007

By Staff
You wouldn't believe the things we hear about at the newspaper that simply can't be printed.
Little tid-bits of information filter through the doors, over the phone, and on the lips of fellow employees and customers.
Just last week we heard that a local business was going to close. However, upon investigating the rumor, we found it was untrue. Further, we heard that a disgruntled employee was to blame for the rumor.
That seems to be the case in a lot of rumors. If you just do a little investigating you'll find out there's not a whole lot of truth in them.
It's kind of like that game we used to play in school called gossip. You probably remember what I'm talking about, but just in case you don't, I'll give you the facts.
A long line or circle of people sits quietly. The person on one end is told something and is invited to tell the person next to them what was whispered in their ear. Pretty simple really. Just passing on the information shouldn't be that difficult. It's not, but it sure gets tangled up along the way.
When I was in school and we played this game, we would be given information about something completely harmless. &#8220Johnny brought a moon pie to school.” Easy enough to pass along - you'd think.
If there are more than 10 people in the line with the information being passed along to each one, you're bound to hear something very different if you are the last one in the line. The phrase may end up sounding like &#8220Johnny shot the moon and died at school.”
It's really very easy to see how that could happen. Sometimes we are told something by a friend and we sort of add our own slant on the information when we pass it along to others. However, most of the mis-truths or half-truths that we hear circulating around town could be called an innocent mistake.
Overhearing a portion of a conversation in the checkout line sometimes creates a misunderstanding. As a matter of fact, I have been guilty of this one myself. I heard someone say something in line ahead of me in the grocery store checkout line once that someone was getting a divorce. I didn't hear the first part of the story being passed between checker and customer, but I know I heard that part.
As I busied myself looking for a pen to write a check with when it was my turn, I lost a little of their conversation. I picked up again when I heard a name a recognized. You probably know where this is headed.
I put one part of a conversation together with another part and had a couple getting divorced in my mind. As I began to question a couple of people about the marital status of this couple, I found out they were happily married and intended to stay that way. In the end I discovered it was the woman's sister who was getting a divorce and had absolutely nothing to do with the people I imagined were divorcing.
It's easy to get caught up in gossip. I've been caught up many, many times. I hear it, ingest it, put a little imagination on it, and sometimes I even pass it along.
I once heard someone say that bad gossip is a prayer request and good gossip is a praise report. Maybe, but it can be hurtful. Especially if there is little or no truth to the root of the story.
To quote some very intelligent people, there is a verse in the Bible that says &#8220Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” Psalms 34:13.
Do a little investigation if you hear something by chance. Investigation is fun and it can save some folks a lot of heartache.
Lisa Tindell is a news writer for The Brewton Standard. She can be reached at 867-4876 or by email at lisa.tindell@brewtonstandard.com.