Monday, 23 September 2013
It's Only Words
Words stick - they eat away at you...things that were said eons ago that still rise up, disturbing the still surface and taking away your peace. There is no re-set button - no opportunity to rewind the moment and start again. Depending on who is doing the talking, the weight of each sentence shifts and changes accordingly - but it doesn't necessarily have to be someone close to you to have a lasting impact. So if I gloss over certain moments - fail to record them exactly as they were - maybe it is because I can still feel the burning - the everlasting fire that some words bring. I understand how the stench of them can linger - long after you've walked away. They seem to stick far easier than the kind ones - recalled at a moment's notice when you need a crutch to drive the nail in deeper. Words were my business - as a journalist and then in communications - speeches and stories, news releases and features. How you told the story as essential as the story itself. But you can't sugar-coat the truth - somehow it always finds a way to shine through - illuminated regardless of the frilly dressing you put on top of it. I had a minister once who told me (through a third party - presumably he was too 'unavailable' to tell me to my face) that I hadn't tried hard enough to convince reporters he was "unavailable" as opposed to "refusing to comment". Two thoughts went through my head when I heard this - first, that I was his glorified messenger, not a magician and I didn't write the subsequent stories - what I said and how it was interpreted were not things I could change and second, I'd done a horrible job. What stuck was the second part - and though I was fortunate this was really the only minister I worked for who was anything less than kind (and I worked for many) and it certainly wasn't all a series of barbs - I think about that moment - which was pretty innocuous in the scheme of things - and how easy it is to be kicked to the curb, put in your place and how much power a few little words can have. But I have wielded that same power myself and I am sure my own words, poorly timed and badly executed, have had their own stinging impact. It is even easier to wield the knife through the immediacy of social media - slinging arrows that even a delete button can't fully erase. It is so easy to wound and so much harder to heal. Of course you can 'un-follow', 'un-friend' - but somehow that doesn't seem the point. I am trying so hard to be more mindful - to recognize the weight of what I say and if I can't say anything nice...well, you know how that story goes.