August 22, 2010

The Power of Words

Let's talk words. Nothing is as powerful as the written or spoken word. Sure, you can end a physical life with the cut of a knife, but think of the devastation or the ecstasy the wrong or right word can bring. An innocent e-mail with a flippant remark, read the wrong way makes the recipient wonder about the sender's true intent. A well placed spoken jab can destroy an entire relationship beyond repair in a matter of seconds.

No matter the language, words have the ability to change lives, for the better or worse in an instant. How often have you said something and immediately wished you could take it back? How often have you said something and immediately been glad you did? A moment of intense feeling where the words, “I love you,” are uttered without thinking can move a relationship in a new direction, good and bad. A moment of intense feeling where the words, “I hate you,” are shouted without thinking can annihilate a relationship. That's all it takes. Three small words; so much power.

Then there are the words that sometimes take too long to come forth; the long overdue apologies or inquiries about a tough situation in someone's life. Why do we wait so long? Why are the healing words often harder to utter or write than the ones that bite? We dance around the subject and avoid the person completely, until we are to the point where the words must be said or written if there is any hope of the connection with the person surviving. Leave the words unstated, and watch the relationship unravel. Yes, words keep us connected with one another; whether spoken or written, they bind us. Even when not vocalizing their emotions, people are often described as “speaking” with their eyes or “saying volumes” with a look. Words are important.

In today's world we gravitate towards Facebook, Twitter, and texting. Shorthand forms of communicating, but all created to convey our feelings, actions, adventures, and life in words for the world to see, helping us connect to others over distance and years. Even when adding photos to our online pages, we often add captions, and wait to see if someone will respond with a comment. More words; just usually short and misspelled words.

Gone, for the most part, are the days when people would correspond; sending long missives to one another describing in detail the events of their life or the things on their mind. Now we're lucky if we see something in a mass posting on Facebook updating us on the latest happening. Is it just me who misses getting handwritten letters or cards that have more than just the person's signature inside? And as for e-mails, I like epic tomes from the right person, even if it's only about how they slept too long, cooked eggs for breakfast, cleaned house all day, and decided to go to a movie. I now have a written record of this person's life, their thoughts, how they were feeling on a given day, and know that they thought enough about me personally to sit down and write more than just a few quick lines in a 140 character Twitter blast to the world.  

Yes, words are powerful. They connect us, destroy us, help us feel loved, move us to tears, and can make us laugh out loud. No wonder I continue to have an ongoing love affair with words. They are what help us move beyond ourselves to include others in our lives. So how are you using your words today and with whom are you sharing them?


  1. I too miss getting cards in the mail with notes tucked inside. Bring back those days. The constant FB and Twitter updates are fine, but I'd like something more personal.