Gossip Free Campaign Focuses on Social Networking

by | Aug 8, 2011 | Charisma Archive

smartphone
AP Images

While many know the negative impact gossip can have, few have
stood up and tried to do something about it. Starting Monday, pastor
Kevin Hester is challenging people around the world to go “Gossip
Free” for eight days.

Hester, pastor at the
Sanctuary Baptist Church in Watervliet, Mich., originally started the
initiative on Aug. 8, 2008. This year the focus is on social
networking—the source of a lot of hurtful gossip, especially for
young people.

“There
is no doubt that this issue is deeply impacting our young people and
I am sure it is having a measurable impact on adults in family
settings and in the work place as well,” Hester wrote Charisma News
in an email.

While
social media can be beneficial, Hester has experienced destruction
caused by gossip that people have texted, tweeted, typed and posted.

“When
we refrain from gossip we do gain in various positive ways, but the
ones who gain the most are the ones we didn’t gossip about,” Hester
said. “I believe we gain maturity when we do finally learn to
control what comes out of our mouths. Our relationships can be more
enriched and fulfilling because with trust comes deeper sharing.”

On
his website, gossipfree.net,
Hester encourages everyone to PAUSE before posting anything online
or via text message and ask if the message is private, attacking, upright, sensitive and
exaggerated. “If it is, then change it or simply don’t say it,”
the site encourages.

Although
Hester hopes this will be a positive experience, he encourages people
to make it a way of life rather than just staying gossip-free for
eight days.

“What
do we gain from eight days gossip-free? Not much unless we continue
to live that way. My campaign challenging people to go eight days
gossip-free is meant to be a jumping off point,” he explained.

Although
Hester knows not everyone is successful in their attempt to refrain
from gossip, he is believes it still has a positive impact.

“I
know that it is not something that will be completely eradicated by
this campaign and those who’ve taken the challenge haven’t
necessarily completed the eight days without gossiping … but
they’ve gossiped less,” he said. “That means that fewer people
have been harmed by gossip and that maybe the destruction that has
been caused in our failure has even been lessened.

“The
one benefit I would hope for is an awareness of the malicious motive
behind gossip and the destruction that it causes, because most people
will be motivated to change if they truly see it for what it is.”

Hester
is encouraging everyone to join him in this eight-day challenge as he
attempts to make social networking a safer way to connect and share
information. He has also written a couple of small books on gossip
and has bracelets and Gossip Free Cards available for those who want
to take a stand against this destructive behavior. More information
about Kevin’s Gossip Free campaign can be found here.

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