Words have a magical power. They can bring either the greatest happiness or deepest despair; they can transfer knowledge from teacher to student; words enable the orator to sway his audience and dictate its decisions. Words are capable of arousing the strongest emotions and prompting all men’s actions. ~ SIGMUND FREUD
Just about everyone argues, that’s pretty much a fact. You argue with the spouse, the kids, the parent, the sister, the brother, the… well, you get the picture. It’s probably safe to say that everyone has had at least one argument in their lives.
Pat and I argue all the time. Our first argument was the night we met. That was 20 years ago. Guess what? We’re still arguing. In fact, we’re arguing right now! Hahaha!
I love to argue. Surprising absolutely no one, I’m sure. When I argue I like to win. In order to win, I need facts. Facts, contrary to the belief of some, are your friends. They are necessary to open and healthy discourse. Like sunshine, they keep you healthy and honest.
Let’s set aside, for argument’s sake, the act of arguing and talk about talking. About interacting. About being responsible for what flows from your lips or your finger tips. Facts are not for special occasions. They are not your wedding china. They should be used all the time. For with use, they get stronger. They get healthier. They get factier.
So, what’s my point?
There are several.
The first, are you responsible for what you put out in the world?
My answer: Yes. Yes you are.
Second, do you have a responsibility to make sure that what you put out, makes sense to other earthlings?
My answer: Yes. Yes you do.
There is this picture making the rounds on facebook that is driving me absolutely, talk-to-myself-crazy. What, I hear you asking, can be making me crazy? This:
I’m only responsible for what I say not for what you understand
I read it the first time, it seemed harmless. I see 100 pictures a day on my facebook wall. It showed up again. Then again. The more I was confronted with it, the more it started to annoy me.
Really, you have no responsibility for how your words are perceived? Really? So I can call someone a stupid, lazy, fat-ass, douchenozzle and it’s not my fault if they get mad. I should just tell them that I have no responsibility for their hurt feelings since I’m not responsible for their reaction? Really?
How about taking a moment and remembering that words have actual meaning? Meanings that are established by society. They have a certain weight to them. They can stir passion and incite violence. When you put them out in the world, you own them. All of them. That includes how they are received.
Call someone a hero, and that lifts them up. Call someone an asshole, and that tears them down. You. Own. Both. Results. Know what I see when I read that slogan? I see the Palinization of personal responsibility. Say whatever comes to mind and get defensive and petty when someone calls you on your bullshit. Quite frankly, It’s astounding to me. Breath-taking in it’s duplicity and complete abdication of any sense of decency.
The thoughts and opinions in this blog originated in me. I own the words. I own the thoughts. I own your reaction. Good or bad. Happy or sad. Enraged or indifferent.
That’s the power of words.
Use them wisely.
Even if it is “only” facebook.