April 16, 2021

Stevens County Times

Your spot for community news in Stevens County, Minnesota

Kates column: Gossip can kill a community and greatly damage friendships

One of the hardest things to deal with when living in small towns is gossip. It is something that happens pretty naturally as everyone knows everyone else and can’t wait to share information about their neighbors whenever possible. Sometimes is it good things that are shared but other times it is not good news.

I love to hear good news shared but cringe when someone tells me something bad about a person. My first instinct is usually to defend that person but I also want to know if it is true. I have learned from experience that quite often, gossip is not true and not based on facts.

In recent months there has been a lot of untrue gossip circulating around this county. It has been devastating for the people involved and caused a lot of unnecessary pain. Before spreading rumors, people need to find out the truth. It could mean taking the time to ask the person about it, which is much better than sharing lies. While the events that the gossip stems from are bad, making someone else the scapegoat is not the solution.

There is a letter to the editor in this issue coming from someone who has had to bear the brunt of untrue gossip. I have had a conversation with him and I am very confident that there is no truth to anything being said and spread around town. He has had threats, people not wishing to support him and all kinds of after-effects from the lies.

It really isn’t fair. He is struggling just like so many others through this pandemic and does not deserve to be treated like this. I want to challenge anyone who repeated recent gossip and learned that it was not true, to admit to everyone how you did not have the facts before sharing the story. Perhaps, next time you will think twice before sharing something you heard but did not get all the facts to support.

Now on to the people who I want to refer to as ‘uninformed informants.’ People who see things and make assumptions and then make phone calls bringing harm to the businesses or people they call about. They don’t take the time to bring up the problems directly to the business owners or even simply look the other way when mild insurrections are viewed. 

We are all struggling to get through this. Businesses are doing what they can to meet the restrictions but it isn’t always easy. There are so many different scenarios that come up and not always an easy solution. As a group we need to be understanding and encouraging not negative and critical. Just do your part and don’t worry about what others are doing.

I am not saying that if your life is being threatened you can’t call the police. If you see someone in terrible danger, by all means, make that call. However, if it is something that simply involves a person not wearing a mask or not staying 6 feet away, just move away from the situation and let it rest. It is not worth all the heartache and hard feelings that come from it. And by all means, if your own life is far from perfect, do not start critiquing others.

Katie Erdman