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Ok, Greensboro, I have some hard news to break . . . “Brangelina” is no more.

Diana WestrickDiana Westrick, Legal Assistant, Woodruff Family Law Group

If you have happened upon your browser’s home screen, Facebook, Twitter, or any news outlet, you have already been bombarded with the news that Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt.

What? How?  Why?  Say it isn’t so!

While you have to love the efforts of gossip sites to always have the “inside scoop,” the currently available details are truly hearsay.  Unfortunately, that does not stop every proceeding media outlet to quote these unconfirmed theories as if they were fact.  While I am not one to indulge in celebrity news, I do have an amazement with how celebrities and their lives are portrayed to us “ordinary” folks.  In situations such as celebrity breakups and divorce, it may surprise you that I actually pity these people; they are going through a situation that is difficult-by-nature, but they also have to worry about their public image and how the media will portray them.  Despite what the truth of the situation may be, people believe what the news and magazines tell them.

Any reasonable person most likely already knows that gossip should be taken with a grain of salt.  However, how often do we develop biases solely based on what someone told us?  Keeping that in mind, I can all but guarantee this divorce is going to be pinned onto Brad Pitt.  Most outlets are already stating the claim that Angelina filed in order to keep the “health” of her family intact; she did not agree with Brad’s parenting style, and she wants full custody while he gets only visitation.  With only those details available, where does your mind go about his parenting?

No, I’m not going to use this blog as a means of venting my frustration with celebrity politics.  Rather, I am going to turn it over to you, Triad: I urge you to consider how gossip has impacted (for better or worse) your relationships with your family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers.  Are you able to identify these different types of situations?

EXAMPLE #1

You are hired as a new staff member.  On your lunch break, you are vetted by a group of 3-4 coworkers of the office “drama” to be aware of. This includes the poor work ethic of your direct supervisor; you will be expected to pick up the extra slack without compensation nor recognition.  This information completely conflicts with your initial impressions of your supervisor, but now you view his work, and your own, in a different light.

EXAMPLE #2

During a dinner party with two other couples, your significant other comments on how good for their relationship it must be when ‘Jack’ and ‘Jill’ compliment each other so much. You now start wondering whether your partner is unsatisfied in your relationship and if you should start making the effort to compliment them more often.

EXAMPLE #3

Your child makes a new friend and begins hanging out with them frequently after school. Another friend’s mother pulls you aside one day to say “Be careful, about little Bobby hanging out with Leroy; I hear his parents are bad news.”  Your child has only ever reported positive experiences regarding Leroy’s parents, and they seemed nice enough when you met them.  Now you question your ability to read people and your discretion as a parent.

All of the above examples can end up having either a positive or negative impact depending on how they’re handled. You can look for the “inevitable” reasons to hold a grudge against your supervisor, or you can put in your best work ethic and give them the benefit of the doubt; You can become withdrawn or angry with your significant other, or you can take their statement at face value and maybe start complimenting them more to see if they like it; You can tell your child they can no longer go over to Leroy’s house, or you can trust your child’s choice of friends and simply check in now and then.

While choosing the positive route does not guarantee ideal results, in my opinion, it is better than allowing other people to dictate how you view the people in your life.  Create your own impressions and try to give Brad Pitt the benefit of the doubt.