People deal with stress in different ways. Some reach for the bottle, some for the credit card, others hit the gym. When I am down or stressed, I reach for a pen. Words are my thing. But the problem is that words can cause suffering. And this suffering can last for a long time. The saying ‘sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me’ is not true. When someone hits you the pain can heal. However, the pain of words can last forever.
Digital media has made it worse. Before Facebook, email, texts and messenger your venom and vitriol was reserved for your nearest and dearest, causing you to traumatise your children or making your spouse flee for the hills. The problem is that now digital media gives this venom a wider audience. It allows people to type up words and press send in the heat of the moment. When you send that message or email, or post that nasty status update, you can’t take it back, and you are saying one or all of several things:
I can’t control my emotions;
I don’t think you’re important enough to speak to face to face;
I’m too cowardly to have a conversation with you about this in person.
I don’t trust you and want some digital evidence that I have said this to you.
Ultimately, if someone sends you a nasty message electronically they really don’t care about you or respect you.
However, it’s not just digital words. There are people who speak to you face to face who can be deliberately cruel, ‘saying it how it is’, even to their own children, which is really just an excuse to be mean.
Don’t be one of them.
Use your words wisely. Be assertive, not aggressive. Show compassion. Try to have difficult conversations face to face. If you can’t, call the person or write a nice letter. Don’t use digital media. Don’t be arrogant. Don’t be cruel. Because words hurt. And they are never forgotten.