Tlellagraph: Wild horses couldn’t pull the rumour mill off Haida Gwaii

“Especially in today’s day and age, the gossip/rumour mill can go terribly awry.”

By Janet Rigg

“I heard George Westwood bought a property in Tlell on Beitush Road”

“What’s he going to do with his horses?”

“I heard that he’s going to graze them on the dunes.”

“I heard that George is going to turn the entire property on Beitush Road into a horse paddock.”

“Really? He might as well open a riding stable.”

“I heard that George is going to open a public riding stable on Beitush Road.”

“Well he’s industrious, I could see that. He’s so good at the undertaker work.”

“I heard that George is going to open a public riding stable on Beitush Road, and an undertaker business.”

“Undertaking and horses? That sounds a little weird…”

“I heard that George is going to open an undertaker business for horses on Beitush Road. Finally our horses will have the funeral rites they wholly deserve.”

“Good man, George, it’s just what we need.”

Rumours — be careful! While it is true that George bought a property on Beitush, none of the other statements are remotely true, and (to be transparent) none of those rumours have actually been heard by this writer.

But rumours run rampant on Haida Gwaii. They are our information highway, but are often completely distorted by the old “broken telephone.” So how do we know what’s true and what’s made up?

Especially in today’s day and age, the gossip/rumour mill can go terribly awry. Social media, and a lack of trusted sources for information, mean a small kernel of truth can grow into a horrible tree of misinformation.

I’ve experienced this firsthand in my work as a mental health clinician. I’ve worked with people who have been hurt by rumour, people who realize that no matter how hard they yell their truth, these vicious rumours persist. I’ve also experienced it personally. I’ve heard that I counselled a man in a troubled relationship to cheat, and that I counselled a couple who broke up and then slept with the man.

Though I recognize that my lifestyle could be open to speculation, neither of these rumours have any truth behind them. And though I hate to disappoint, there is no swinger community in Tlell. Sorry folks 😉

Of course, there is a positive spin to talking about our fellow community members. As in simpler times, there is a way to talk about those we care about that supports them. It’s a way to learn and understand. It’s also a way to have your life look way more exciting and controversial than it actually is, which can be fun in some circumstances!

But a word of caution to all. If you are spreading what you “heard” about someone you don’t have entirely positive feelings about, be aware that you are a part of the broken telephone chain, and your tone and selection of “facts” will inform the narrative that follows. And if you hear something that seems as though it simply couldn’t be true, it likely isn’t. Check with people closer to the source. Check your “facts.” It could save someone’s reputation.

And George, welcome to Beitush Road. The horse undertaker business should take off like wildfire.

(By the way, I heard George Westwood set fire to the dunes…)

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