A sweet friend has challenged me to think about telling stories that are not my own. When does news become gossip? We talked this over one night in small group. One of the members asked me, "What are we going to talk about then?" We all laughed, but then we discussed when does passing on information that is not about us become harmful?
I have had stories that I had been involved in make a circle and come back to me. ALWAYS--the true story has been changed in some way and the intent is sometimes lost in the repeating. We decided when talking this over that when you are passing on information that might help the one you are discussing, it is not gossip. "Sue (who is our mutual friend) had major surgery yesterday and will be incapacitated for a month." We both have a relationship with Sue, I have merely repeated the facts, and this gives us an opportunity to help Sue. No harm is meant, there is no salaciousness in the talk, and both parties have a vested interest in Sue. It does begin to take on the character of gossip when we are repeating a story for the sake of the story. As we talked this over, we admitted we all like to be "In the know". For some strange reason, we think knowing all the latest and greatest talk makes us more important. My cardinal rule has become--is there any benefit to be derived from repeating this information? NONE of us like being the object of gossip--and when we begin repeating stories--the truth will get lost in the repeat. We are opening the door for hurtful mischaracterizations of the truth. My new answer has become, "It's not my story to tell." I came across this quote this past week and it resonates with what I am attempting to say, "People will believe any story if it is told well." Remember that old saying, "What goes around comes around."? Be careful of repeating stories lest you be the subject of the stories. OUCH, my toes are hurting!