The act of disliking people that we hardly know solely on the basis of someone else’s bad mouthing of them is a shame..its a shame to think that we do this often without thinking, without realising the division we a perpetuating, the message we are sending to other people about the kind of people we are, the kind of things that people like us talk about. Did you ever play Broken Telephone as a child? A group of kids would sit around in a circle and the first kid would come up with a catchy phrase and whisper it to her neighbour. The recipient of the message would then tell the next person in line the message and the process would continue with the recipient becoming the messenger, forming an essential (and most often distortional) link in the telephone. Most likely than not the last person in the line would get a very different message than the initial message; a distortion occurs. The same occurs in our schools and offices, our families and group of friends, where we share the worst stories of each other, behind each others’ backs regardless of how trivial it seems, and unwittingly destroy the very teams we are a part of, uproot the grass we are standing on. Because not only are we failing to confront the people we should care about, but we are giving opportunity for our perceived flaw in another person to mutate along the broken telephone line of social interaction and become a huge, exaggerated image of someone that becomes that person’s mascot; your bad report now precedes that individual, even to people that individual has not met yet. We have a choice of what we choose to perpetuate amongst our peers, colleague, friends and family, with what we say about other people. Sure, make note of the flaws, but before you say your piece about how badly the guy next door mows his lawn, think of the mascot you are making for him, think of the distortion of the social broken telephone. If you are not willing to confront them, perhaps making your comment is not necessary at all. Just saying .
Inspired by Tommy Deuschle at C-Culture , Harare