The Rumor Mill 謠言
Sometimes I forget how small Taitung is. With all the new hotels, with all the weekend traffic, it's easy to forget that Taitung County is still composed of small towns, and that Taitung City - despite being designated "city" - is still just the largest of these small towns. 我有時候會忘記台東有多小. 看到那些新的飯店和周末的車潮, 真的很容易忘記台東縣有很多人住在小農村裡. 台東市一方面來說只是台東縣最大的農村.
In other words, not a lot of people live and work in Taitung. I'm sure the population is growing, but we're still a long way away from places like Kaohsiung, Taichung, and Taipei. It's still possible to know most of your neighbors here, and most of the county seems within easy reach, even if it's an hour's drive away. 換句話說, 住在台東的人不多. 我確信台東的人口還在成長, 但人口數和台中, 台北或其他的大都市的差異還是很大. 在台東認識大部分的鄰居的可能性比較高, 大部分的地方就算要開車一小時, 仍舊像住家附近一樣容易到達.
Hence one of the big problems with living in Taitung: the rumor mill. Rumors spread fast over here, and they tend to stick around for a long time. Whether or not these rumors have any basis in truth is irrelevant. What matters is that they are a story to tell, and moreover a story told to entertain. People like spreading rumors. I suppose it's just human nature. 因此住在台東的其中一個問題是謠言. 在這裡謠言傳播得很快, 人們也不容易忘記它. 不管這些謠言是不是有事實根據, 重點是它是不是一個具娛樂性的故事可說. 所有的人喜歡傳遞謠言. 這應該是人類的共同點.
You can probably imagine how it goes. Some guy in some part of Taitung got bit by a dog. One day his wife tells her sister about it. The next day her sister tells my daughter's friend's mother. The day after that her daughter's friend's mother is telling me, or you, about this other guy - that neither of us have ever met - who got bit by a dog (or maybe it was a snake). Around and around it goes. 你應該知道這種事情怎麼發生的. 在台東的某個角落有一隻狗咬了某個人. 他的太太跟她妹妹分享這件消息. 隔天那位妹妹告訴我女兒的朋友的媽媽. 最後那位媽媽告訴我(或是你)這件事: 那個我們兩個都不認識的人被狗 (還是蛇) 咬了. 謠言就這樣傳到很遠的地方.
It's a lot like that "telephone" game where students whisper a message to one another down a line, or around a circle. By the time the message gets to the end of the line, it may be something completely different from what the original message was. The only difference is that "telephone" is a game, and we always know when the kid at the end of the line is giving us the wrong information. With rumors, it's not always so easy. 這很像小朋友玩的 "電話" 那個遊戲. 小朋友排隊或是圍圓圈, 由第一個人把一句話傳給他旁邊的人. 一個傳一個地把那句話傳到最後一個人. 很有可能最後一位說出來的那句話跟最前面的人說的話完全不一樣. 最大的差異就是大家都知道這是一個遊戲, 也知道最後面的人說的話會有誤差. 但是謠言就不會這樣簡單了.
For foreigners in Taitung, this problem of rumors can be even more exaggerated. They are, after all, a small community within a small community. For example, I had a friend who was using an alcohol-based cleaner to clean his and his students' hands before class. Lo and behold, one day one of his parents decided that he "smelled like alcohol." Shortly thereafter, "smelled like alcohol" became "has a drinking problem," and this story took flight all over Taitung City. All because he valued cleanliness. Really. That was it. 對於住在台東的外國住民, 謠言的問題特別嚴重. 原因當然是因為他們是小社群裡的小社群. 比方說, 我有一個朋友用酒精類的洗手液給學生洗手. 之後有個家長認為我朋友有"酒的味道." 最後"酒的味道"變成"他是酒鬼." 這個謠言在台東很多地方都聽得到. 這都只是因為他認為小朋友洗手很重要. 真的! 就只是因為這樣.
Now I know that some rumors are true, and that some people really do have deep, dark secrets. But I hope that those hearing (and sharing) rumors will give people the benefit of the doubt, and remember that there are always two sides to every story. Anyone's reputation is fragile, and destroying someone's reputation by spreading rumors is not something to be done lightly. 我知道有的謠言不是謠言. 有的人真的有些不好的秘密 , 我只是希望聽到和說謠言的人能對你聽到的故事存疑, 並記住每個故事都有正反兩面 , 每個人的形象名聲都是很脆弱的. 所有的人都有可能受到謠言的攻擊, 所以要說之前要先考慮一下.
After all, we all have to live together in this small county. Living together is much easier to do when people keep gossip, and rumors, to a minimum. When we take care of one another in this way, everyone benefits. 畢竟我們都一起住在這個小農村. 如果大家能對謠言有所判斷. 我們也都能夠對彼此多點關懷和照顧, 對大家都好.
Related Entries 相關的文章:
"Chinese" Tourists 大陸客*
10 Great Places on the East Coast 東海岸很棒的地方
Saying Goodbye 說再見的時候
The Shape of Things to Come 未來的樣子