An incident that occurred a few weeks ago on a fan site I belong to has prompted this message.
As many of my friends know, I'm a big fan of Barry Manilow. I have been for many years ( and no, I will not go into how many). Barry's Fan Club has a Ning account that is used as a message board for blogs and discussions by his fans, for his fans. I've made a lot of really great friendships on this site, but there has been some drama lately.
One of the fans on the site, I'll call her Sally, posted a blog post on the site saying some rather not-so-nice things about how much the other fans were posting on the site about Michael Jackson. Then she got into another topic, one that didn't sit well at all with many of the fans, saying some inflammatory remarks about Barry. She was concerned about Barry regarding his personal life, and her posting it on a web site - operated by Barry's Fan Club - was how she felt it needed to be done. Sally, and now a friend of hers, is stating they have every right to post this because it is their opinion. I'm not buying that argument.
While I'm not privy to Barry and his personal life (and neither is Sally), things of this nature should be handled privately through his managers, not in a public forum where anyone can look it up and see this being posted.
When anyone talks about someone's private life without that person's consent, it moves from opinion to gossip. Gossip is very destructive and humiliating. I know as I've been the object of gossip myself, and while I do love the people behind the gossiping, they have lost my trust. Forgiveness is one thing, trust is another. It's also especially destructive because usually the object of the gossip is not there to defend themselves from what people are saying and/or accusing them of.
Sally backed up and made apologies, however she privately sent messages to some of the other fans stating she wasn't backing down from her "opinions".
I've stated on the site, a sincere apology comes in 3 parts: I'm sorry, it will never happen again and what can I do to make it right. Some wise words to live by from Randy Pausch. He stated that while a lot of people do the first, and should do the second parts, the third part of that is usually ignored. That's how you can tell that someone is being sincere in their apology.
The really sad part of gossiping is that the person gossiped about usually finds out. It was that way with me when I found out I was the butt of the gossip at my Church when my husband died. It was discovered, however the public apologies and tears didn't stop the gossiping, it still continues on to this day. As I've said, I love these people, however I will never trust them again, nor do I even want them setting foot inside my home. Sad. Very sad.