Skip to content

Subscribe to campari&sofa and receive new posts via email

Killer gossip – hunting the hunter.

Posted in Life & Love, and Relationships

20821_10153748712041982_276771583349161871_nI found myself spreading a little bit of gossip this weekend. Something that involved two people I know only as acquaintances. I told the ‘facts’ (as I had heard them), without embellishment or judgement. Indulged in a little biblical psychobabble (of the ‘let him without sin cast the first stone’ variety) and rounded off my little information session with “either way, it’s really none of my business”. Catching myself squarely in a lie. I had spread the news. I had made it my business.

I tried to tell myself that it was ok – I had only told two people I trust – who are not, themselves, gossips. But who was I kidding? McG is a small place. If I knew and told, others had done the same. I was one of them now and I didn’t like the feeling at all. Especially as I had spent a fair portion of last week telling people off for essentially doing the same thing,

Yes I know we all do it. And for the most part it is all pretty harmless.  Sociologists say it is the way we first bonded, how we formed alliances and chose sides. And it worked pretty well until the internet. That changed everything.

10801521_10153342429631564_8006352583817011872_nI want you to close your eyes for a moment and imagine you are a dentist living in a small town somewhere in the USA.  Let’s say you have a fondness for hunting and you shoot a lion for sport. It turns out that big cat was the symbol of a nation. And that nation is impoverished and in Africa. Suddenly your stupid-ass decision to kill a beautiful animal takes on the added weight of race, privilege, wealth and entitlement. Word gets out before all of the facts are known. People publish the name of your business and the address of your home. There are pictures of your family spread across thousands of news sites. You’ve gone viral. You’re a global brand now. All you can hear from your shrouded house is the baying of a million keyboards.

You are being hunted. And we didn’t even have to leave home to track you down.

Someone who loves you, probably your mother, will tell you – ‘hey, there is some upside’. The speed of news cycles means that your global shaming won’t last that long (though it will feel like an eternity). In a month or so, the caravan will have moved on and the dogs will be still. It will be some other poor bastard’s chance to be crucified. But you know it won’t end there. Mom means well but she doesn’t understand the power of this beast. Your name is out, plastered across megabit billboards. Un-erasable, indelible, tattooed into hard drives the world over: eternally accessible. One pointed finger and you will back where you started. It will never go away. Just ask Monica Lewinsky – she carries a gun these days. And not for shooting lions.

Each time any of us shares a piece of news without checking its veracity or provenance, we are doing exactly what I did this weekend. We are gossiping. And the damage that gossip can do is far greater than we can ever imagine. The dentist from Minnesota’s life is ruined. His family and employees are irrevocably stained too. And the lion is still dead.

The internet has made the world a village. And we’ve become its idiots.

 

Share on Facebook

8 Comments

  1. Winston Moreton
    Winston Moreton

    Apart from one of his short stories about Kilimanjaro E Hemingway did little for me but without doubt he encouraged big game hunting and bull fighting. Folk who grow up in rural communities working with animals have a different take on blood sport and are less likely to use electronic Social Media for their entertainment but they do engage in gossip and physical action. Neither group engages me.
    Great write – couple of edits tho 🙂

    August 11, 2015
    |Reply
    • Thanks Mr Moreton – share your thoughts on the edits?

      August 12, 2015
      |Reply
  2. It’s never easy to decide what to say, is it? I admit I’ve signed petitions concerning the betterment of lion supervision (if that’s the right word), but not those demanding the dentist be deported to Africa and undergo trial – precisely because, being against hunting in the first place, I wasn’t there to be able to say what happened, and whether he acted ‘wrong’ knowingly… It did go mental, what with all the harassment, and this man was most unlucky because with so much hunting going on in safaris, this is the one that really made people mad.

    And, since you mention gossip being a form of bonding, and my admitting it’s not something I like to admit to indulge in once in a while, here’s food for thought: I read somewhere he tried hiding the tracking collar once he realised his mistake, which being true really shows a character flaw for me, but who knows if it’s true? And who knows what I’d do if I enjoyed killing animals for sport and realised I’d accidentally killed a celebrity feline?…

    August 11, 2015
    |Reply
    • I think the killing of the lion was despicable and unnecessary – however as Mr Moreton points out – people who live with animals in various situations are less squeamish. It is true – they dragged a carcass to lure him off the Protected Reserve, and only once they had wounded him with a bow and arrow and then tracked him for two days did they apply a killshot with a gun. It was then they (apparently) discovered the collar. Male Lions – especially the dominant ones are enormous, and their manes are full … so there is a chance they didn’t see the collar. My sense though, is that the lion was recognizable enough for them to realise who he was. And they still went after him. All that being said, the crazed social media response that followed was as ugly as the original act. And something that diminishes us all.

      August 12, 2015
      |Reply
    • Thanks PP … appreciate it. xx

      August 12, 2015
      |Reply
      • Winston Moreton
        Winston Moreton

        My sentiment exactly. Sent the edits via twitter 🙂

        August 12, 2015
        |Reply
        • sofagirl
          sofagirl

          Thanks to my editor.

          August 12, 2015
          |Reply

Got some thoughts? We would love to hear what you think

%d bloggers like this: