I recently had a really lovely day where I visited Nando’s with a group of close friends. We ate, drank, talked and had a marvellous time. Being that most of them go to the same university as me, the conversation eventually moved on to the subject of one of my favourite lecturers (I shan’t mention any names in this anecdote). I was quite saddened to hear from one of the people there that he wouldn’t be continuing his job for much longer because the university had decided they no longer needed him. What a terrible shame that would be, I thought, and so I decided it would be nice if I were to send him an email when I got home to let him know what a terrible shame I thought it was.
    The next day when I checked my emails I saw that he had replied. I expected something along the lines of “Thanks for your email, I’m sorry to have to go, but so is the way of life” but what I actually got was a rather worried reply from a man who had suddenly been given an element of doubt about the security of his job. I especially hoped that it wasn’t true now, because what an awful way to find out if it was! I asked the person who had given me the information where they had heard it and they told me they’d get back to me. Once they remembered, they asked the person they’d heard it from and asked them about the origin of the information. I began to feel especially worried at that point, because the person they’d heard it from was somebody who was especially in the know, as they say, about the goings on at the university. Was I really going to have to break such sad news to such a lovely person?
    Thankfully, I was not. It seems that my friend had actually been told that he was no longer teaching one class (and that, he tells me, will only be for one year) but my friend had either misremembered, or misheard, and been lead to believe that his time at the university was coming to an end. I emailed him as soon as I knew and everything was set straight.
    I think this anecdote perfectly illustrates the unreliable nature of rumours and gossip. I have a rule never to believe anything about anybody (or anything) unless I have direct first hand evidence of it. Sadly, since I trusted my friend, I let the rule slip this time and it lead to somebody having to go through unnecessary worry. Even when nobody has bad intentions, false information can find its way into circulation, and it’s important to always remember that.
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