08.09.12 Truth & Wisdom

OMG! Did you hear?

OMG! Did you hear?

BY Jennifer Griffin

To some, I am the highlight of their day, the thing that pulls the “girls night” together or the secret that creates a “members only” pact. I am also the detail that determines a friend or foe, and the cause of many public and private relationships to fall apart. In other ways, I am used for getting ahead or making others feel falsely empowered.

Who am I? My name changes a lot so you have to keep up. Social media has shot me through the progressive stratosphere; I hold many passports, and I can travel at lightening speeds. I should feel like a superhero, right? I don’t. Currently, I am known as Gossip, Scoop and The Buzz.

My relevance to people and cultures has been a pervasive tool and a curse. You can find me in written and oral narratives of ancient to contemporary works of art and literature. My dark side put Socrates on trial to receive a death penalty based on false accusations of the Greek state. Romeo and Juliet’s tragic love story was dramatically undermined by my ability to cause great rifts within a family or community.

A multifaceted gossip industry has been grown from my roots within the celebrity phenomenon, but most critically, my impact goes beyond the tabloid, newspaper or the television.

At any given day or time, I have juicy nuggets of information about who was with whom the night before, political news stories to be manipulated for scandal, leaks about the next Apple product, or sensitive information about a personal or public relationship prime for negative chatter. But, as long as I can remember, I have never been asked how it feels being used in so many ways with so many different motives. The truth? Those who are not concerned with “me” and what I represent are using me for all the wrong reasons.

I get it. We all want and need to feel important, useful and valued. I am all three of those things numerous times during the day, every day. So why is this wrong? Well, rather than waiting for someone to ask me the question that will never come, I will give you some free scoop. All gossip animals take note.

As I enter conversations, arguments, business meetings, parties or luncheons that only focus on me, I’ve noticed that not everyone sees me. There are times I can be hard to identify because so many people in your circle of friends or family are using me. If everyone else is using me it can’t be bad, right? Wrong. In this case, it will take a trained ear to notice me and put me in a positive light. Have you ever tried not participating or walking away when I’m in the room? If not this can help change my direction.

Let’s talk about my power. It is simple. I have none until you give it to me.  Many days I am by the sun minding my own business until you or your friends seek me out (not the other way around). Whether or not I want to travel around at that moment is not up to me. I don’t have a choice. The only power I have is in the way I am presented. The importance and value of the presentation defines my usefulness. Even if I’m not about anyone you know, using me in the wrong way makes you look bad. No matter how beautiful you are, I can change how people see you if I’m not used wisely.

Have you ever thought about fact checking before you put me on blast? I can’t tell you how many times I’m in the room being tossed around with only a few correct facts. Work with me people. I try to give hints like “Really?” “Are you sure?” or my favorite, “No way!”  But I still cannot be stopped.  This is why I am distrusted.  Help me to gain friendships not enemies.

I am part of life that can be exciting, but I can also provide a false sense of knowing someone. Having the inside scoop gives you information, but it doesn’t give you a relationship or authority to know, help or empower people.

Let’s make a pact to be much more discreet when I am part of the conversation. I see so many coffee shops and bars that I’m either feeling jittery from caffeine or drunk. Plus, after the person sitting next to you hears about the scoop I’m giving you, I’m usually rushing through the web for my appearance on Twitter and Facebook. Really guys, my days are exhausting.

If you’re interested, I prefer intimate dinners and funny stories that engage you into other worlds.  Help me help you. Let’s use each other for good to talk with each other not about each other.

Featured image by Aaron Landry on Flickr

Jennifer Griffin lives in Dallas and is the Founder of The PLAY Foundation, a guest columnist at The Dallas Morning News, Public Speaker and life enthusiast who would love to battle it out with George Clooney on practical jokes. She loves finding new adventures in the kitchen and has several videos to help others with challenges on her YouTube channel. Oh and, she has a new spin on life since losing her hands and part of her legs to sepsis in 2007. Watch out, she will spark in your soul. You can follow her on Twitter @jgchallenge.


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