Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ramsey Suspect Captured, But Who Else Might We be Killing?

Just weeks after Patsy lost her life to ovarian cancer, it appears the murderer of her six year old daughter, JonBenet, may have been captured.

The JonBenet Ramsey case is an unfortunate example of negative buzz -- the kind of "where there's smoke there's fire" thinking that spreads almost as fast as the hype around "Snakes on a Plane." The public immediately seized on the peculiar nature of the pageants that JonBenet participated in with her mother, another pageant winner and lifelong pageant enthusiast. Under a cloud of suspicion, Patsy Ramsey tried to live her life, raise her son and struggle with cancer while grieving a daughter that many thought she'd killed.

Let's face it: We're a nation of gossips. And I don't mean GOSSIP -- Gadget-Obsessed Socially Superior Independent Professional...those cats who have a blackberry, a personal and work cellphone and drink pricey, branded coffee even if the coffee's free at work. Our amusements are rife with reality programs that allow us to voyeuristically eavesdrop on people and then chat, IM, blog and talk about it the next day. But the line between what's real and what' spun is getting blurrier. One story can become a runaway train with little hope of turning or slowing when new facts come to light.

A couple of years ago, a local businessman was rumored to have hit his wife. It wasn't true, as it turned out, but people were talking about it. He was shunned, asked to step down from a public accountability and his business suffered. His wife, a chick with some substance, denied the rumors and even found the person that had started it -- a little self-aggrandizing that got out of control -- but it didn't matter.

For me, when I met with him shortly after this began to heat up, I felt a little ashamed of what I'd heard, so I told him what I knew and from whom I got it. Then, I went back to my "Don't talk about that with me or I'll squeal" policy that had been so useful years before.

One of the worst things I think we do in business is assume. We do it when we network, when we prospect, when we hire. We shortcut our thinking because, many times, it works....Except when it doesn't. Now, I'm not saying never assume. What I am asserting is that assuming without assumption-testing is worst than going off half-cocked. See if you're right about your assumptions.

Our most powerful weapon against false info: the question. So, be sure you ask.


Anonymous said...

First, it appeared that he was and now it appears that he's not the killer.