Humanly speaking, the word, our human word, is almost a nothing in reality, a whiff of breath. No sooner said, it vanishes. It seems to be nothing. And yet the human word has an incredible power. They are words that make history, they give shape to our thoughts, thoughts which give rise to words. Words shape history and reality.
-Pope Benedict XVI
It’s a bit ironic for me to be writing about this, since I’m sure, as a blogger, I waste words all the time. However, I wanted to write a post about words. How we use our words, what our words mean, and how we can [hopefully] waste fewer words.
I have two main reasons for coming to this topic. The first is profanity; the other is Facebook (and, oh my, when the two combine…).
To be honest, I’ve always found profanity unattractive and, quite frankly, pointless. Usually the defense of people who use profanity is something along the lines of, “So what? It’s just a word. How can a word be ‘bad’?”
And that sort of gets at the heart of my pet peeve. Words are supposed to have meaning. If they didn’t, well then I couldn’t be writing this post, no one would be able to talk to each other, and the world would pretty much stop functioning. It is a very good thing that we assign meaning to words.
But probably even more upsetting than when we try to devalue words and their meaning, by using profanity, is when we do it without even realizing—to our most personal thoughts. And thanks to the age of social media, we now do it all the time. Whoever said the saddest words are those unspoken clearly lived in an age before the Internet. As powerful as words have the potential to be, we actually devalue our deepest desires, thoughts, and feelings when we subject them to a Facebook status or tweet for 1,000+ other people to read, pass judgment on, or comment on. The really tragic part is that we don’t fully realize what we are doing until it’s done. Our tweet is another one in a million; and suddenly the worth of our thoughts are determined by the number of times they get retweeted.
It’s so important to be able to speak your mind. But it’s just as important to guard your heart. Words are often where the two meet. So think before you speak (or tweet). Your words are too precious to waste.