OVERHEARD. I know it’s the stuff of bedroom farce and half the plot lines of who knows how many murder mysteries and episodes of Law and Order. I still hate it.

Let us delve briefly into classic literature. Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff. You know, the tortured anti-hero.

He overheard half a conversation that Cathy was having with her maidservant. As a result, he destroyed … how many lives? Not merely did he eavesdrop, but he didn’t wait around for the rest of the story. Nor did he have the courtesy to question Cathy about what he heard before racing off into the night.

Wherein rests the tale.

How much misery could have been saved by the simple expedient of saying: “Cathy, I overheard you saying some really bad stuff about me the other day.

“Did you really mean it the way it sounded? Did I miss something important? I’m really upset, but before I go away mad, I thought I’d let you give me your side of the story.”

It wouldn’t have been such a romantic, dramatic tale … but it would have made a lot more sense in terms of human relationships.

I get crazy when I see this as the basic plot in a movie or on TV. I refuse to watch it. It infuriates me how people can be so obtuse. What bothers me the most is that people can be so stupid.

Why are we so quick to accept the worst possible interpretation of whatever we think we heard? Do we really think so little of one another? Why this acceptance without so much as a nod to checking on the veracity and context of whatever it is?

Stupid has been sweeping the nation. It’s fashionable. Trendy. An epidemic. I’ve watched people I’ve thought intelligent and enlightened believe stuff they read on the Internet without looking for its source, or doing any fact-finding about where the so-called “information” is coming from.

This is eavesdropping pushed to its electronic limits.

How is eavesdropping different than malicious gossip, vicious rumor mongering, backbiting, and bullying? Answer: It isn’t different. Just minor variations on a single theme of ugly behavior.

So my answer is simple. I don’t eavesdrop. If I can’t avoid hearing something, I do my damnedest to get out of hearing range. I don’t want to overhear other people’s gossip or conversation. It’s not merely rude. It’s a short path to broken relationships, lost trust that can never be repaired. To misunderstandings that may undermine your entire belief system.

You will never overhear anything good about yourself or anyone else. Never.

Eavesdroppers — especially chronic eavesdroppers — are troublemakers, rumor mongers, and back-stabbers. Don’t be one.


  1. Pingback: Success with Scrivener | litadoolan

  2. Hey, i completely agree with you. Hearing something that isn’t intended for you is bad. But what is worst is, spreading rumors on the basis of the things you overhear.


    • I suppose it doesn’t much matter if you overhear what strangers are saying to each other … no context, unlikely to concern you one way or the other. But when it’s people you know and you may really BE the subject? Bad joss!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The half-heard conversation is certainly the main plot mechanism for many soap story lines. It annoys me no end too.
    I don’t believe everything I read on the internet, except if it’s on Wikipedia because obviously that’s all true 🙂


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  5. You would go nuts working at Mecca. Customers are constantly having extremely loud cellphone conversations while shopping (Often with the person they are talking to on speaker, so both ends of the chatter are echoing down the aisles)… the only way to avoid it would be to never leave the breakroom. But that’s where all the in-store gossip emanates from, so whatcha gonna do?


  6. If I always tried to get out of earshot of someone else’s conversation, I’d be running away a lot. 🙂 While I agree with you, people talk about inappropriate things in public all the time. When they’re on a cell phone it’s worse because they feel like they have to yell into the phone for some reason. I think it’s just as rude for someone to be talking about something private in public, loud enough for everyone around them to hear, then get angry at anyone even looking their direction.


  7. I remember watching tv with my mom when I was a child. She couldn’t stand it when the plot moving forward was based on the characters lying to each other. Now when I see that it still bothers me the same way. I don’t know how they would create conflict on tv shows without lying and gossip, but it is still irritating as all heck.


  8. I am almost afraid to ask your opinion of the Patriot Act and/or the NDAA? I doubt there’s a person alive who can outdo our own Government when it comes to ‘eavesdropping’ and betraying our trust. 🙂


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