Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Words: Weighted Hateful Hurtful Hollow

JusticeThere are a lot of wishes I make in a day, the most consistent having been, “I wish people would consider the weight of their words.” It isn’t just the heavy words, either – the ones with cruel or hurtful content. No. There are plenty of words floating around out there that are a waste of vowels and consonants and I wish there was a way to get people to use words more carefully. And, use them more commonly and routinely, truth be told. And, if they must be weighted, weighted positively.

Some words, I’d like to remove altogether. Like “like,’ for instance (sorry, I couldn’t resist). In a restaurant today, I sat next to a not-so-young woman who used the word “like” 17 times in what seemed like an incredibly serious conversation, insofar as the subject matter, but the way she interjected the word “like” after every-other-word made the story seem fluffy and light. Her dining companion barely glanced up from his plate to acknowledge her words. Had she edited herself, even a little bit, the story of how the general handyman wanted to attempt to fix the broken elevator in her apartment building, to save money for cheapskate landlord, putting all of the four stories of occupants in jeopardy might have been more, like… interesting.

Maya Angelou (a woman with great power in her words) is credited with saying a version of the phrase, “People will forget what you said or did, but will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s true that people will not always recall exactly what was said to them, but the experience from the words received can be lasting. Taking that one step further, repeated critical phrases have the extra added evil super power of being remembered word-for-word and going on to affect someone, more often than not, for life.

Children who are told they are overweight, unattractive, unintelligent, incomplete or somehow “less than” will spend the remainder of their days living with the after effect of toxic words being poured over their heads. It’s easy to acknowledge and call attention to how people can restrict and modify the body – such as binding feet, a practice that crippled young women in China up until the 20th century or restricting waistlines with corsets and cinchers (actually still sold and used today), in the pursuit of the exaggerated hourglass figure, but it is not as easy to identify the way that words can constrict growth – emotionally and psychologically, but also physically (in the form of cutting, eating disorders, etc). Surely, you’ve seen the stories of cyberbullying and how teens are hurt by words that fly through the Ethernet, damaging hearts that are anonymous, until their stories hit the news, and the famous (Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris, most recently) – but what of the man/woman on the street, down the road, and in your zip code (maybe even in your home)? How do words, both the weighted and the ones without thought, make people feel?

Well, allow me to speak from experience (and feel free to chime in if you relate):

• You should never wear stripes/shorts/sleeveless shirts/jeans/etc.
• Why would you eat/drink that?
• You always/never…
• Why can’t you be more like ?
• Were you in the Will/Trust/List of Disinherited?
• You are (or “That was”) stupid/dumb .
• Have you gained/lost weight?!
• Did you know that wedge shoes are considered the ugliest (and forgive me, I paraphrase) by men/women surveyed?
• Why aren’t you married? [Or worse, WHY are you married to ?]
• You never do/say/cook/etc. ANYthing right.

That’s just ten phrases (less than a hundred words) out of the millions of words that fall out of heads daily that are either hurtful, unnecessary or even the pesky hollow filler words (like, you know, whatever).

I like words. I like people. I just wish there were a way to bring them together more effectively and less painfully. But there I go, wishing again.

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” ~ Rudyard Kipling

That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.” ~ Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things

Some people have a way with words, and other people… oh, uh, not have way.” ~ Steve Martin

Communication
Late 14 century. Noun of action from past participle stem of communicare “to share, divide out; communicate, impart, inform; join, unite, participate in,” literally “to make common.”

Thank you to Online Etymology Dictionary (www.etymonline.com)

Leave a Reply