On Monday, a news article appeared in a national publication that not only *quoted* the words of a player, but lead with the following headline:
Redskins Robert Griffin III: ‘I’m the best quarterback in the league’
A few years ago, RG3 was on top of the world. 2011 College Football Player of the Year. 2012 National Football League Rookie of the Year. Newly married. A ton of endorsements. And then he got injured. He’s spent the past couple of years trying to regain his form, but it’s been a pretty tough road.
He’s become a comedy line on sports talk shows. He’s been turned into a joke around the water cooler and sports bars across the country. Some of it, he’s probably earned. He’s gone from everybody’s favorite to everybody’s punching bag. This needs to be the year of the comeback.
And then came the quote. And then came the national fallout.
‘He needs a drug test.’
‘He must be on hallucinogens.’
‘Dude needs a serious wake up call.’
‘Confidence is one thing, arrogance to the point of delusion is another.’
‘He’s best in the league for a starting QB to get injured while lacing up his cleats.’
‘What a stupid person.’
‘We always knew his ego was overbearing and unfounded, but now he has turned into a COMPLETE sociopath.’
I’m sure those were probably some of the kinder comments. THE PROBLEM IS, his words have been taken entirely out of context. You can read the entire quote here if you want, but take my word for it…the picture painted by the author of the national article is completely untrue and unfair. And the headline is totally deceptive and inflammatory.
Life will go on for RG3. But unfortunately, the problem of lies, gossip, and slander will remain. The people who already didn’t like RG3 got their opinion of him reinforced by the slanted article. The truth simply doesn’t matter to them, because they already have their own reality…one they will freely pass on to anyone who will listen.
We live in a culture that loves to pass on opinion and judgment. And when things can be freely taken out of context to validate what we already believe, nobody is safe. We joke about how anybody can say (or re-post) anything on the internet, and it miraculously becomes true. Credibility, integrity, context, and proof be damned.
Pretty much every time I speak or write, somebody could take a portion of what I am trying to communicate, remove a few words, question my motives, and apply it to a different context…and make my sermon or article out to be something entirely different than what I had intended.
That’s true for preachers and politicians and wives and husbands and coaches and teachers and anybody else within hearing distance.
So here’s the lesson:
- Stop telling lies, gossiping and slandering. It’s uncool. And it’s sin.
- Always check your sources.
- Make sure what you pass on is absolutely accurate and reflects both the words and the heart of the person you are quoting. If you aren’t absolutely, positively, 100% sure that every part of what you are repeating is true, don’t. Just. Don’t.
- Fact check a minimum of five times before you post or re-post something on Facebook. Like, totally research it. I guarantee your audience will not be as diligent. So do the work for them. People seem to get really lazy on FB and thoughtlessly love to post or re-post things they agree with. That’s fine. It’s a free country. But once something untrue is passed on, there’s really no way of completely getting it back.
- Context is everything. Whether it’s a sermon, a campaign speech, a joke among friends, or an interpretation of a Bible passage.