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Words with Teeth

In this day and age of social media and rampant accessibility, you have to choose your words wisely. Tweets max out at 140 characters, but oh the damage those few words can do.  At least two Olympic athletes were sent packing this summer for what was characterized as racist tweets. It’s not just drugs and cheating scandals (however, there was a badminton brouhaha and a fencing fiasco). That digital stuff doesn’t go away; it can come back and bite you on the ass.  Did you know that if you have ever contributed to the twittersphere, that your work has been preserved? Every tweet since Twitter’s inception in 2006 is being archived by the lofty Library of Congress.

Go ahead, update your status on Facebook, but be careful. Employers are looking at anything they can before hiring prospective workers.  Do you have a blog? It’s out there, accessible and fair game. It has also long been said that corporate email is something that can be legally monitored, so tred lightly.

I am not saying that everything you write has to be sanitized or run through an attorney, but words have the power to anger, destroy and incite as well as entertain, move and inspire. Propaganda has been used as a weapon in nearly every conflict.  Handbills and pamphlets, critical of the autocracy, were potential death sentences during the Russian Revolution.  Regimes have been toppled by the power of words. Words convey ideas and ideas are powerful especially if they question the status quo. Words can win or lose a candidate an election. Careers and lives have been brutally altered by the wrong words.

We use words every day mostly for mundane and pedestrian reasons. “Take out the garbage.” “Can I borrow a paper clip?” “Your husband is boinking your best friend’s sister.” Respect what words are capable of—good and bad—and use them wisely.

photo: Thinkstock.com

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