We've all done it. That little piece of information that we just can't keep to ourselves somehow slips into another person's care, even though it was not our "secret" to share in the first place. The fact is that it's just so easy to fill conversations with bits and pieces about other people's lives instead of taking the time and thought to compose an original piece about our own.
What's the big deal? First off and most importantly if someone confides in you, we should all have the courtesy to keep their trust and zip our lips. Aside from the obvious reason of maintaining a good character, there is also the factor of distortion. Have you ever played a game of telephone with a circle of kids younger than ten? It gets quite intense. It generally goes something like this: Some sweet, innocent little girl whispers "chocolate sundae with sprinkles on top" to whoever is beside her, that person then relays the decadent dessert to the next eager ear. This continues around a circle of giggly and carefree children until it reaches the end where everyone awaits the result of the game only to find that somewhere along the line the delicious ice cream had been turned into "monkey butt". Now either someone got bored with the original story or there were some serious miss-communication issues going on. My point is any story, once it is told by a number of different people, starts to have its own variations and soon becomes a personal rendition written by whoever is passing it on at the time. Taking a little here, adding a little there, turning it into something people WANT to hear instead of what it started as.
The problem now is there are two (best case scenario) different stories, countless ears waiting to find out what happens next, and one disgruntled star. So gossip is human, it's a simple fact. It is something that happens regardless, but I would like to suggest that it is easy enough to control. We often overlook the severity of the damage it can cause and just go on our merry way taking part in the festivities, but what if you were on the other end of it all? What if it had started with YOUR "secret" and escalated into a soap opera that was being shared with your entire school/community.
I would like to propose a challenge. Nobody can stop gossip altogether but one person can really put a dent in it and send it hurdling backwards. If you find yourself in a situation where you are about to tell somebody a story that isn't your's to tell, all you have to do is stop talking. It's simple really. If you aren't sure whether you should say something or not, don't say it at all. No worries, my challenge is fun if you like sharpies! So here is what you are going to do: Find a permanent marker (or a few) and write "word check" on one of your hands. Why? As a reminder to check your words BEFORE they leave your mouth and to stop the contagious spreading of gossip. Have fun with it! Write it in big, bold letters or decorate the words with your favorite colors, the brighter the better. If someone asks you about it great! You can tell them what you are doing and maybe get them thinking about watching their words too. Even if only ONE person takes part in this challenge and prevents just ONE rumor, this post was well worth it. Ready? On your mark, get set, go!
P.S. If you want to know where the term "I heard it through the grapevine" originated take a look at this page one stop english. So I thought it really had something to do with grapes...