how news spreads in a small town

I feel I have just had the first experience of how fast small town gossip travels.  I looked up the definition of gossip since I was curious if the explanation of gossip would have a negative implication and it does. From Oxford English Dictionary: Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true. This is so a propos in today’s ‘fake news’ hysteria.

I certainly can’t say I don’t participate in gossip however simply out of curiosity I like knowing what’s going on rather than any need to be nosey or any malicious motivations. I would pass along info but being clear that this would be from my perspective, having limited information about said person or said situation. As a sociologist I can’t help but be curious about people’s lives and the goings on in the world. Although I have to say I am much more worldly focused, not so much concerned with small town happenings since my world is just far larger than what a small town could possibly offer me.

The situation was that a local business had closed early with a notice on the door explaining it was closed due to a family emergency. In a small town & small business this isn’t particularly strange.  Some business owners have to close if they have to go pick up their children from school or … as they are the only ones on staff.

It was late afternoon. Of course my co-workers and myself were wondering was was up.  My colleagues began texting others to find out what was going on. Within an hour news spread of a major health situation that had occurred to an individual of this business.  The one issue with this news was that there were 2 different explanations as to what illness.  I was impressed however with cell phones, texting and social media it is not really surprising.  I just happen to be one of the few who do not have a cell phone and this is on principle, nothing more.

This reminded me of a situation I experienced when at the beginning of this year while I was in Barbados volunteering with WUSC, you can read about it here “Farmsitter betrayal“, where I ended up posting a notice on crackbook (aka f b) seeking some help.  It was impressive to see it being shared throughout north america and beyond and so quickly.

I am of course meeting many folks, sometimes putting faces to names of folks I have heard something about.  There is also of course the “so and so is the partner of so and so”, or “so and so lives here, in the former home of so and so”.  I then of course get back stories of some of these folks.  I have to say I personally don’t really care who is related to who but don’t tell a local this.  I also don’t care what is your last name but for a local this is VERY important. As Mr.C5 says to folks when this topic comes up, where he comes from – the west coast, if you ask this you are possibly asking for a fight, as it is considered none of your business, rude, an invasion of privacy, and just plain unimportant.

I know that there were some descriptors of myself after I moved to the area which with my memory I can’t remember exactly what they were but of course along the lines of “that professor… “.  Most recently while we were having a delivery of cow manure, the fellow who did this for us told us how when we had Mr. Wu, our boar, folks from around would just come to watch him.  How exciting a pig can be! Who knew!

Well getting back to this health emergency. In a matter of hours, the issue was clarified.  I did hear of one reaction which I guess shouldn’t surprise me: “where am I gonna get my daily/morning ….” (you might imagine what some folks might want starting with a “c”). Quite selfish eh.  Fortunately the staff at the business have rallied and are keeping the business open albeit with more limited hours.

Another recent incident was something I awoke to when I checked my crackbook ‘news’feed.  Some dude decided to trash some planters, chairs & benches, and some other stuff on little ol’ Main Street Tatamagouche around midnight and on into the wee hours of the morn.  Stupid dude didn’t realize this small place actually does have some cameras about, but also there were a few folks around, and I guess not surprisingly the dude is known to the police.  He just made it bloody easy to get caught.  Most probably didn’t even know what had actually happened, since early the next morning, a few folks were out and cleaning up the mess, a testament to the good in a small community.

We shall see what the next few months hold in little ol’ Tatamagouche!

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