RIP Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Jeff Goldblum.
News outlets all over the world ran stories on Thursday describing the tragic deaths of all three celebrities. People mourned. Tributes were paid.
One small problem: Jeff Goldblum isn’t dead.
Apparently, there’s a web site dedicated to spreading fake celebrity gossip. All you have to do is type in a celebrity name and — voila — out pops a real-looking story. Someone typed in “Jeff Goldblum” and within minutes major news outlets were reporting that the actor had fallen to his death in New Zealand while filming his latest movie. By 11:00 a.m.,”Jeff Goldblum dead” was the third most popular Google search term (the other nine were about Jackson’s death).
Imagine for a moment how Mr. Goldblum’s friends and family felt. Few apologies were issued. The hoax web site is still up and running.
As I surfed the TV and Internet that night, one simple fact struck me: our culture is absolutely addicted to gossip. Speculation ran rampant about Michael Jackson’s final hours, potential drug abuse and possible anorexia. The airwaves were flooded with endless replays of the most sordid stories and images from his life. I found myself sitting there, taking it all in and — strangely — wanting more.
Eventually, I forced myself to unplug and grabbed my Bible to see exactly what it says about gossip. It’s pretty simple: Avoid it like the plague.
Here’s a sampling of what I found:
- The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts. (Proverbs 18:8)
- They have become full of every wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips. (Romans 1:29)
- A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. (Proverbs 20:19)
- Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. (Proverbs 26:20)
- A gossip separates close friends. (Proverbs 16:28b)
- They get into the habit of being idle and going from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also become gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. (1 Timothy 5:13)
So, what’s the antidote? If you struggle with gossip like me, ask God to fill your mind and mouth with better things. Here are two great verses:
- Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
- Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)