Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Power of Words or Offline>Online

I know that I have gradually reduced the number of "philosophical" and personal posts here over the years. There are many reasons for that: partly for lack of time (it is sometimes quicker to just post a picture of a nice sight or recent haul), partly as things once said and carved into the online slate stick around pretty much forever (and believe me, I have written some things here that I wish I hadn't) and ultimately because I know most of my readers in person and it would be a bit awkward to "overshare" at times.
Be that as it may, here goes. I have recently thought a lot about the power of the written word and the chain reactions they sometimess trigger, in particular when exchanged online and worst of all written on a flimsy touchpad that generates brevity and typos alike. We tend to take written things as gospel, be it harsh and mostly unfair criticism (hello, anonymous haters leaving acerbic remarks in YouTube videos or blogposts that you would never dare say to the recipient's face), be it pseudo-scientific, ill-researched articles, or adjectives that make a person seem way more attractive physcially or psychologically than they actually are (yep, online dating profiles and yep, first hand knowledge here). On the rare occasions that I take out my beloved fountain pen to write a birthday card or letter, I enjoy the sensual act of writing on paper and having to pay more attention to what I am writing as I don't have a backspace key to delete a word. 
Like digital photography, where everybody gets trigger happy (and I am guilty as charged of this crime as the frequency of my Instagram posts more than proves), digital everything lends itself to verbal diarrhea without due reflection with some people just waiting to pounce on others' remarks to tear them apart. A hastily added smiley face doesn't always mitigate the damage either. There's truth in the saying "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all" since bitching can be so...entertaining and liberating at times. Now that our phones have become as smart, if not smarter than our computers, it's easy to forget that you can still use them to make a call and get your message across less ambiguously than if you had packaged it into an e-mail, IM or text.
What somebody intends tongue-in-cheek or as lighthearted banter might make somebody else very upset and stare at the apparently "poisonous" sentence for hours. The "sender" might long have forgotten dropping their little bombshell, while the recipient is still trying to make sense of the mess and reassemble the little pieces. 
This is not to say that no kind words can be exchanged online. Far from it. I was upset after receiving a little virtual bombshell and therefore really grateful for M.C.'s and Amica's kind words of courage. The power of words goes both ways.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anytime honeybuns :-*

5/21/2014 01:41:00 PM  

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