Tip/Thought of the Day

Words Matter

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to say negative words rather than positive ones? To remember sad memories rather than happy ones?

Why is that? Why, as human beings do we prefer to focus and verbalize those in particular? Why are we quick to say “you screwed me” when we’re angry and yet rarely think to say “thank you, I appreciate all that you’ve said and done for me,” when we’re grateful?

Why is “I hate you so much!” easier to say than “I love you?”

Could it be because “I hate you” seems like a temporary, in the moment statement? Like a child who says it when they don’t get what they want. But ” I love you” implies longevity, thought and commitment?

I have always looked forward to this time of the year. With the coming of the season, there’s usually a kinder, more thoughtful atmosphere. People tend to say “thank you” and “please” more. There’s a sense of good will and anticipation of the coming days. Why can’t we generate this attitude throughout the year?

Maybe the internet and texting have something to do with it. Words typed onto a screen seem less personal, even though when ‘send’ is pressed, they are anything but. There’s really no connection made between that specific person and the words spewed out, creating a sense of anonymity. You can say anything from the cover of your phone or computer and there’s no one to dispute the veracity of your words. Lies and truths are treated as equal in this venue. Sure you can respond, but that statement remains forever, regardless of its accuracy.

We’ve given a powerful medium quick and dirty avenues for the worst side of our natures. It allows us to fulfill the desire to lash out at those we are jealous of, angry at, or just out of spite. The words are then in ethernet limbo while the target is left dealing with the aftermath. Where are the consequences to those actions? When will we say enough? How many people, especially children, will be hurt, even damaged, due to this?

Anyone with a phone is armed and able to wreak havoc at the slightest provocation. I was waiting to get my food one day at a local restaurant. A man was furious because he didn’t get seated when demanded. The lady at the front counter tried to explain others were seated before him because they had reservations, but he refused to listen. He then pulled out his phone, demanded her name and threatened a bad review. You’d have thought the world was ending when she jumped through any hoop possible to stop this action. I later asked why she care so much.

“The corporate office looks at the reviews and I could lose my job!”

He was a bully. He was wrong. Yet none of this mattered. Just empty, angry, inappropriate claims. Is this really how we want to be judged and how we want to judge others? Not getting the entire story, but bits and pieces that are conveniently skewed in the writers favor? Are we really going to let those few who use online platforms as a weapon succeed?

I’m amazed at how the vast majority of posts are written by those angry and disgruntled. When happy and satisfied, we rarely take the time to acknowledge work well done, or excellent customer service. Anger fuels this need. Yet it can have a dramatic impact. Those who wield it as a weapon know this, as do those on the receiving end, like the restaurant held hostage by one man threatening action. Had I understood at the time what was transpiring I would have stood up and said.

“Go ahead and write it. But then I’ll follow each time with my own rave review. They may not be able to call you out, but I can. I can say in each post why you’re a bully and what you wrote was wrong. I can ask others who obviously love this restaurant to write too and drown out your jaded, hurtful, inaccurate one!”

Would it have mattered? Who knows. But isn’t it time we found out?

Let’s use the vast resources and incredible reach of the internet positively. We’ve all read heart warming stories of those who reached out and touched someone in their community or half way around the world. That’s the beauty and breadth it offers. When we see someone being bullied, stand up and say no more. When we see someone making a difference, send it to all you know. Let’s make this powerful tool a blessing for everyone.

Tyranny and suppression can’t feed and grow amidst knowledge and access to the truth. Only behind close doors does it thrive. That’s what brought down the Berlin Wall- access to the reality of what lay beyond and not just the lies propagated. We have that power in our hands. The wondrous ability to talk to anyone across the globe and show them just how human we are. How concerns of keeping our country and families safe are no different than theirs. That we worry about our jobs, health, illness, pain, suffering, love, and life the same way.

We are our words. They define us, they show what we stand for, believe in and they represent us to the world. Often times they’re the only reference people have to decipher who we are or what we stand for. Like an artist on a canvas the words we choose, the tone we set, defines our character, knowledge and attitudes. They paint a permanent and indelible picture. As hard as it is to believe, in my parents day, deals were often concluded by looking into each other’s eyes, verbally defining the offer and accepting terms with just a hand shake!

Make your words count. Make them honorable, factual and thoughtful. They have an impact far beyond the moment. Words matter. They can enhance, improve, encourage or detract, destroy and wound. They’re your legacy.

The internet isn’t inherently good or bad. It’s our choice what we use it for. Next time, take a moment to think. “Is this what I want to leave behind, for eternity?”

Follow the example of those who made you smile, made you aware of injustices or others in need. Pass those words on.

dsc_0323-1    –Dr. Courtney

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