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.