Friday, February 08, 2013

When Is It Gossip?

I picked the wrong team to win the Super Bowl, leaving me with a 7 –   4 record for this year’s NFL playoff games. Still it was a fun season to watch, ending with a great game. But it was a different football story which left me with a bit of a dilemma. Initially I tweeted a link to this story but then I deleted as I found myself wondering when passing along a news story becomes a form of gossip.

Of course being a good Christian I do my best to avoid things like gossip. Most of the time this task is easy as I have simply learned to keep my mouth shut. But lately I have found myself wondering if I apply the same standard to my online interactions as I deal in the world of social media. It is there that I often pass along news stories, tweeting links to followers to help keep them aware of interesting events around the world. Occasionally a story leads to a call for prayer. Other stories are just plain weird. Then of course there are the stories involving athletes, one of which leading to that deleted tweet.

One of the media stories during Super Bowl week involved Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis. No stranger to controversy, Lewis had in fact found a way to avoid most bad press since an incident back during his first trip to the Super Bowl. Adding to the excitement of the game was Mr. Lewis’ announcing this would be his final season. It was a season during which he was out with an arm injury, recovering in time to join his team for their playoff run. It was the story of his recovery which overshadowed his retirement with claims that he had some help with his recovery. This help was reported to be something other than the divine help he would claim in his faith. Instead he was said to have used some sort of deer antler spray which contained a banned substance.

When I first read the story I thought it tweet worthy, sending the link out to my followers. As soon as the tweet hit my account I found myself wondering if passing the story along counted as gossip on my part. Yes, I have passed along news stories many times before but this one somehow felt different. I felt like I was passing along information that was none of my business, concerning someone whom beyond his team colors I know nothing about. It seemed unfair to Mr. Lewis to tell a story I could not personally verify. Most of all it just felt like gossip. And so I went into my Twitter profile and deleted the offending tweet.

I have tweeted other news stories since then, none of which bothered my conscious. I am sure at some point I will find myself again confronted with a headline which leaves me wondering if it should be tweeted. I am not sure where to draw the line, having to look at the matter on a case by case basis. For each news tweet I will as I did with the deer antler story have to ask before I tweet, when does passing along a news story make me a gossip?

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