Somewhat out of the norm for the founder and leader of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio has penned a brief but worthwhile note exclaiming his disgust at the new normal “trials by gossip” that has become America’s new normal.
We now have trials by gossip and that’s threatening to our well-being.
The legal system passes judgement on people and hands out punishments based on definitions of unacceptable behaviors, it specifies the punishments that fit the crime, it does so by having both sides present evidence about what happened and how that fits with the law, and it reaches judgements using unbiased parties (or at least it does these things so that most of us believe that the legal system is by and large just).
Trials by gossip do none of these things.
While gossiping might be entertaining like watching soap operas, it leaves us judging and sentencing people without truth and justice. It is also a time-consuming waste of time that hurts productivity.
Because this preoccupation with gossip that determines peoples’ fates rewards the purveyors of it, the process is self-reinforcing.
News is rarely news rather than hyped gossip about high profile people in government and on other big stages. They’re our soap opera stars whose stories unfold like a Netflix series. We can’t distinguish which books are fiction and which are non-fiction, and we seem not to care.
While there are of course important instances in which the media shines light on bad behaviors, which can be a force for good, if we as consumers don’t hold ourselves and the purveyors of gossip to higher standards of truth and justice, I fear for where we are headed.
I wonder, do you share my concerns?