8. “Do Not Use Anonymous Sources Or Blind Quotes Except On Rare And Monumental Occasions. No One Should Be Allowed To Attack Another Anonymously.”
This is similar to #7, of course. If someone tells you something he heard from “someone,” or read “somewhere,” it’s always worthwhile to find out if there’s real evidence for the accusation. And it’s equally important not to spread such non-information yourself.
Gossip can actually sometimes be useful – but it can also be incredibly harmful. While in general, I think it’s better not to spread information just for the pleasure of talking badly about someone else, it’s crucial not to spread unfounded rumors about anyone.
Not only is it hurtful to them, perhaps unfairly, but it can also come back and bite you in the butt. So protect yourself and your relationships by making sure you have the facts right – and being sure you really want to be the person who spreads any rumor, true or false.
Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued. – Socrates
9. “I Am Not In The Entertainment Business.”
This last rule is so, so important, not just in this day of news as entertainment, but also in the social media world in which snippets of our lives are often used to entertain others – and ourselves.
There is a joke that has regularly made the rounds on Facebook since early on, that goes something like (and I’m paraphrasing here) “I’ve started living my life as though it was Facebook. I go up to strangers in the street and tell them what I ate, what time I got up, who I saw, and all the details of what I did and where I went yesterday. And I’ve already got a lot of followers: two law officers, three FBI agents, and a couple of psychiatrists.”
I have written about the incredible added value that social media has brought to our lives, one of the most important being that it’s a way of making and staying in contact with friends who we don’t see regularly and who we might otherwise not be able to stay connected to; but I have also talked about some of the dangers of the medium.
One is that we can get so focused on how we present ourselves – the images of our life that we put out there – that we forget to focus on how we’re actually living. A value we can all try to remind ourselves — and our children and loved ones — that the life we’re actually living is far more meaningful than the images we present of that life!
Jim Lehrer left an important legacy behind. Although his view of reporting the news is not a popular one these days, there are, fortunately, I believe, plenty in the news business who still do follow it.
But perhaps in terms of our individual psychological and emotional well-being, what’s most important is that his rules of reporting are also invaluable tenets for living a good life.
*names and personal info changed to protect privacy
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Written by: F. Diane Barth Originally appeared on: Psychology Today Republished with permission