Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fact vs. Fiction

I mentally toss around these two concepts from time to time, particularly when a rumor surfaces. In fact, there was quite the exchange regarding rumors on CL just last week-which has prompted this entry today.

At what point is something fact, and at what point is it fiction??

How do you determine which is which, when it comes to rumors and gossip?? I mean, how do you personally view the difference-is it fact when it comes from a close friend, but only "nasty gossip" when it comes fourth or fifth hand?

The small horse community here gossips something fierce-we all know that. There is a lot of talking going on, not in public or on the net-but emails, texting, and phone calls do fly when something "juicy" comes along. There is an equal amount of what can only be called back stabbing and trash talking going on as well. Sometimes, people are even used to carry information between parties-whether they are aware of it or not.

Many times, the same people who will denounce such behavior to your face, are the same ones that gleefully pass along tidbits to other buddies-and from there it makes the round, one person to the next-proving "six degrees of seperation" exists and functions quite well here thankyouverymuch ;)

Folks will move from one circle or clique to another-and promptly trash talk the previous set, exposing their failings and sometimes their secrets. I am not sure if this is just a way to gain acceptance, or the equivalent of sour grapes-but this is a fact we all know-and most of us, entirely too well.

I enjoy a good rumor, really. Sometimes they are hilarious, sometimes very sad, sometimes alarming-but I always, always attempt to find the truths-if there are any. I have stopped a number of them in their tracks over the years, thank heavens. Occasionally, rumors that float around about me could be resolved with a simple phone call and a question to two-but that rarely happens. Folks are much more at ease speaking to their friends than they are actually determining the truth. I'd say the majority of poeple gossip to one degree or another-whether they admit it or not. So, if two friends are discussing something that concerns them-is that gossiping? I don't think so.

If you are convinced that any talk of another person is gossip, then perhaps applying your standards across our culture will help you see the fallacy there: Any information that is not experienced first hand, would thus be gossip. All the news reports, all the articles and stories we read and hear every day, could qualify as gossip by that yardstick. Politics, international events, newspapers, radio, the internet, etc-all nothing but gossip yet we accord them more validity than we do that which we hear from our peers.

It's like the recent subject of a prior entry....I heard some startling things, and proceded quickly to discover the truths. Thus, I had contact with a number of people, and accurately relayed what I found out.

Does this make me a gossip?
Or a reporter?
Or a little of both?
Or none of those but something else?


Lori said...

Boy, that's a tuffy. What is gossip?
Malicious intent I would call gossip.
Exchange of information, well, I dunno.
Reporting what has been investigated, I would think would be revealing the truth.
Written/verbal history in itself could be considered gossip.

It's best to review just the facts and determine if it is information that needs to be relayed.
Personal mistakes probably don't need to be passed through the rumor mill. Individuals who intend to do harm to others, animals, business, etc need to be exposed.

Cedar View Paint Horses said...

Rumors and gossip are things I try to steer clear of, regarless of who/what they are about. When talk turns to gossip, I usually put my hand up and say "If I didn't see it, I ain't believing it." And i try my derndest not to repeat it.

What is gossip? I guess anything second-hand.

As an example, I tell you that so-n-so never cleans the water trough. You can be assured that I'd say that only if I saw it, and that would just be an observation. Now, lets say you tell your friend that you heard that so-n-so keeps filthy water tanks. That is gossip.

Seems black and white to me. But I refuse to get swept up in the stories. For every second you waste worrying about someone else's mess, you can be sure someone else is worrying about your's.

suvalley said...

cvph, it isn't that type of gossip that has me concerned...it's the more relevant things.

For example, if you hear gossip, or are told that a horse is in dire need (starving, abused, whatever) what should you do? Ignore it?

I know what I do when I hear about horses-I pass it along to those that would want to know, and let them handle it if its too far away for me to go see myself. When I do see for myself, I go to the authorities *if* approporiate-but I am the type you'll find knocking on your door if you need some help :) The worst that can happen is I get kicked off the property-and that's fine too. At least I *try* which is the point of the blog...most people would rather talk, than act.

What if someone is ripping off other people? What about scams? What about bad check writers? Horses misrepresented? Where do you draw the line there?

If you take the moral high ground and refuse to get involved, or listen to these things-is that really the responsible thing to do?

And too, it depends on your definition of gossip. Everyone has a slightly different idea what that is...I tend to side with lori on this one. But I also know, from practical experience that when you hear things, you should keep two things in mind:

The motivation of the person telling you the story.

And that nearly all stories have some kernel of truth in them.