By Gaafar Uherbelau —-

“Ak kora orrenges el kmo ng kel redil a kmung milekerang me a uchul me ngkel tara rechad a milekesakl e elechang ea bechil ng kel chad a mla ikang. OMG! Ng merang?” How common is it nowadays to hear such talk everywhere we go? We hear it in waiting rooms at the hospital, at the weekend mechesang, on Palau 2012 and even at the diangel. Men supposedly don’t gossip right?

Telulechoid or hearsay seems to be getting the best of many people’s interest nowadays. Some members of Palauan social media groups even reorganize their entire daily schedule just so that they can spend many hours online waiting for the opportunity to indulge in the next juicy topic.

Unfortunately, not all that is posted online or whispered around town are based on facts. These “stories” are then exploited and twisted until an innocent person who doesn’t know anything about the topic is tempted to believe that it is true. And worse, the person whom the rumor is about is ultimately taunted.

To me it’s saddening when people overreact and become emotional upon hearing rumors that are totally baseless, especially Palauans who reside outside of Palau who voice their opinions and even show hostility towards topics that they are completely misinformed about. But what’s more ironic is that even people who reside in Palau end up believing in rumors simply because there aren’t adequate measures in place both socially and legally that address privacy and defamation.

This common malpractice of information sharing only verifies the need for clear and concise communications at all levels, whether it is a conversation between two people or news releases being disseminated by government agencies and private companies. Maybe we don’t realize it but a simple rumor started by a single person can spread like wildfire and cause a lot of damage amongst families, workplaces and could even paint a negative image for our nation as a whole.

It is one thing to satisfy curiosity by exploring the possibility of truth in a rumor, but quite another to spread and sensationalize that rumor, implying that it is true without even knowing what is fact and what is fabricated.

I know we are better than that. And I’d like to think that we are not a nation of “hearsayers”, that we actually practice omengull and omelengmes of others and that our actions reflect our words as stated in our constitution preamble, “We renew our dedication to preserve and enhance our traditional heritage, our national identity and our respect for peace, freedom and justice for all mankind.”


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