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Did you hear?!?
by Katie Brinager, Staff Writer

(Author Unknown)
My name is Gossip. I have no respect for justice.
I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives.
I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age.
The more I am quoted the more I am believed.
My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name or face.
To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become.
I am nobody’s friend.
Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never the same.
I topple governments and wreck marriages.
I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartaches and indigestion.
I make innocent people cry in their pillows.
Even my name hisses. I am called Gossip. I make headlines and headaches.
Readers before you repeat a story, ask yourself: Is it true? Is it harmless? Is it necessary?
If it isn’t, don’t repeat it.

“Actions speak louder than words,” is a common line of advice that people often tell one another to make a point. Yet, sometimes people never realize the reverse of that phrase. My mother cut the poem you just read out of the News Herald about ten years ago. You can even tell its that old by its crispness and brownish tint. The day she cut it out, it was immediately placed on the refrigerator with a magnet. Since that day, every time I reach for the handle of the ‘fridge, I see the big, bold letters of the title and remember what it’s like to be a victim, a bystander, a perpetrator and a rescuer of gossip.

Elementary days brought along the infamous, “…so and so sleeps with a teddy bear,” “…so and so smells,” and even the great,”…so and so has cooties.” Middle school created, “Oh my gosh s/he likes him or her,” and, “Did you see what so and so is wearing?” High school gossip has brought us badmouthing others, writing on bathroom stalls and even going to the extreme of school fights.

After writing this, I realized that maybe no one remembers the gossip that occurred during the different stages of our lives. But when it comes to talking about high school, you remember it all because it’s what we have to live through right here and right now. Later down the line at high school reunions, people might forget about the time that “something” was said about you, yet maybe they wont. Why not create positive memories instead of remembering people based on how they looked, talked, walked, or whatever it might be?

I have come to learn that being a victim of gossip is the hardest thing in life for a high school student. We are here to learn, laugh, and enjoy…not grieve. The anxiety one has to overcome every time someone stares at him, laughs about him or smirks at him after hearing the latest line of lies about himself can lead to bigger and worse problems. Luckily, some people, (like me) can easily shrug it off by saying, “No big deal;” unfortunately, there are people who take it to heart.

One lie, one laugh, or one smirk can ruin relationships, friendships, and even ruin lives. I have seen heartaches, breakups, and friends in tears due to this vile word. Through the inspirational group, Project Love, I’ve heard the stories of people who wish they would have never said anything at all. H.U.G.S. members have learned through seminars and group leading sessions that in this world today there are too many victims and not enough rescuers. Be a rescuer, not a contributor! Instead of adding a link to the chain of lies, break it off and create a fixed ending. If you really need your daily dose of gossip, you can read the Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar.

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