The power of our words

Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Words have much, much, much power. The comments that catapult out of one’s mouth can land one in boiling hot water.

But word wars depend on who is listening or who is audiotaping or who is videotaping, and what they do with it.

When Linda Tripp covertly recorded Monica Lewinsky’s confidential conversations via the telephone about the affair with then-President Clinton, a sexual scandal erupted. Words falling out of loose lips can sink ships.

In the era of social media, the written word is the top dog of dominance. Insensitive remarks propelled from the keyboard can land one in a steaming pile of deep doggy doo-doo.

People with low impulse control need to heed the instantaneous technology of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. STEP AWAY FROM THE SCREEN BEFORE YOU CLICK OR TAP. Take a few breaths, go for a walk, and calm down. Angry insults, derogatory darts, nasty language, radical rampages, personal attacks, taunting tongues and temper tantrums, are word weapons. And words can cause hurt and harm.

And while using the transportation highway of instant communication, just one controversial tweet or one offensive comment on Facebook can land an individual in the social sewer.

Individuals have been fired for inappropriate techno-talk as they let their fingers do the walking on screens.

Gilbert Gottfried, loudmouth comedian by trade, angered the Aflac duck owners after he tweeted jokes about the tsunami in Japan. He learned that catastrophe disasters are not fodder for funny. So his goose was cooked.

Celebrities, news anchors, politicians, and those in the public eye must learn Internet etiquette — and so do the rest of us. Because what happens online stays online; permanently.

Racist, sexist, and ‘ist’ remarks take the toxic talk to an utterly unacceptable level because the mouth is connected to the brain and the mind. Values, believes, morals, ethics, principles, standards, opinions, and attitudes are communicated via the oral cavity.

The nonprofit director in a small town in West Virginia was fired for referring to Michelle Obama as an “ape in heels” on Facebook; a vile and venomous word attack.

Controversial cowboy hat-wearing Imus, radio show host, got the boot for calling the Rutgers University women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hoes” on the airwaves in 2007. Whether Imus was just trying to be irreverent and funny — is no excuse for racist and sexist remarks.

Words have might and muscle. “The pen is mightier than the sword,” proclaimed Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. Words are a two-sided blade.

Words are attached to consequences when others are humiliated and/or harmed on social media, especially in regard to race, ethnicity, gender, and culture. Individuals need to be held accountable for hate-filled statements.

Nonetheless, should people who make a regretful mistake on social media, television, or on paper be fired? Does a genuine apology matter? Is there forgiveness after the insult?

Does one atrocious comment define an entire career? Can a person who is caught making an ‘ist’ remark change his/her bias? Why are we so quick to call for a resignation instead of using the problem as an opportunity for education and change?

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio.