Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Writing the Wrong

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“Words! What power they hold. Once they have rooted in your psyche, it is difficult to escape them. Words can shape the future of a child and destroy the existence of an adult.  Words are powerful. Be careful how you use them because once you have pronounced them, you cannot remove the scar they leave behind.” ― Vashti Quiroz-Vega

“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”
― Jodi Picoult, Salem Falls

We sit behind these keyboards and type out words sometimes forgetting that there are actual people on the other end of the computer screen.  We type out these words knowing the intent we have, the thoughts that are running through our own heads, and having no control over how the words are received or perceived.  In the blink of an eye, in a second’s time, the time that it takes to click the ‘publish’ button our words are out there in black and white for all to see. Once the post or comment is published we know with the responses that come back to us that we have communicated ineffectively or, worse, errantly.  Wait, wait, wait…no, that’s not what I meant!, we sit here shouting at the words displayed on the page.

Speaking or publishing words is much like squeezing a tube of toothpaste.  Once the paste has been squeezed from the tube it cannot be put back in.  No matter how much you’d like to or how hard you try you’ll never shove every drop back in the tube.

Words have the power to build up or destroy, to build bridges or walls, to start wars or end them. Words have the power to give life and the power to lob off the head of the one they gave power to in one felled swoop.  They convey love and hate. They can tell our significant others that they are the most important thing in the world to us or tell them they have no value.  Words have power.  Sometimes more power than we are even aware. The saying goes, ‘Actions speak louder than words’, but sometimes words are action; they are our thoughts in action.  Whether carefully crafted or thoughtlessly strung together, words mean things.

What seems benign and unassuming to one takes on a different meaning and one of more import to another.  Within a few clicks of the publish button one comment can take on a life of it’s own, filled with meaning that was never intended, simply because we presume intent upon another that was probably never there.  Presuming intent upon another leads to all manner of misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and collateral damage left in its wake.

Sometimes in an effort to be humorous or witty we(read: I) use poor judgement and in the blink of an eye the readers’ perception of the us is changed.  It only takes a moment.  It only takes one word and suddenly the miscommunication is blatantly obvious.   It is too late and even more difficult to communicate with two feet in your mouth.  Just because a thing can be said doesn’t mean that it should be said. A thought in one’s head doesn’t always translate well in print.  Is the pen(or keyboard, in this case) too mighty a sword in the hand of this, sometimes incompetent, communicator? Perhaps, but I refuse to be defined by my failures.  These recent words of a much more competent writer than I come to mind:

“We err. The strong and honest admit it, and make amends.” John Zande
 

Can I get a R’amen?

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39 thoughts on “Writing the Wrong

  1. Ramen! I’m smiling because i was quoted 🙂

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  2. A very thoughtful post.

    Let’s assume that most of us have some sort of filtering mechanism we can apply when writing a blog post. (I find it’s a lot easier to filter my words when writing than when I am engaged in verbal conversations and will occasionally blurt out something I wish I hadn’t said.)

    When we draft a post…and edit it numerous times…we have chosen our words carefully and have attempted to communicated what we intended in a cogent and articulate manner. And then we hit publish.

    I know that my words and my opinions will not resonate with everyone in the same way. Some, as you say, may take offense. Some may get angry. But if my posts are true to me, and if the words I use reflect the idea and the message I was attempting to communicate, I can’t be responsible for the way the reader interprets or reacts to those words.

    People have difference lenses through which they view the world (and the words people say and write). I can only take responsibility for my own vision, not for that of my readers.

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  3. Just because a thing can be said doesn’t mean that it should be said.

    Indeed:)

    I usually try to think pretty long and hard about hitting publish especially in the comments section. There are many things that could’ve been said, that weren’t.

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    • I’m sure I don’t know *what* you’re talking about…

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    • Yikes! On a train, that one, on a train. With a one-way ticket.

      I can only imagine the number of times you’ve typed and erased and typed again.

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      • Oh come on now. You know we’re all a bunch of “snarky grumblers.” :mrgreen:

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        • Well, I certainly hope that nothing I replied came across as insults “thinly veiled” as intelligence. I didn’t intend to veil a thing.

          “Snarky grumblers”…headed for the bad place. Much to her glee, I’m sure.

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      • I can only imagine the number of times you’ve typed and erased and typed again.

        Totally:)

        I’ve known her for pretty much as long as I’ve been online. We met on an End Times forum and then my husband and I had a forum for awhile. When that stopped, I started the blog and she was the first and only reader for a time. So, I guess you could say, we go way back (a few years anyway).

        What is so saddening to me is that she knew me when I was a believer, all the stuff I posted, all the scripture studies I did (I blogged all the way through Romans at one point) and can still say the things she does. It’s downright hurtful.

        But, I try not to let it get to me that much, I know where she is coming from and what makes me sad is that she flat refuses to use her own brain. But I can’t and don’t particularly want to deconvert anyone, I never comment and rarely visit her blogs anymore because they just upset me and I’m not going to go over there and start an argument. Although it looks as if from her last few posts that she is trying to:)

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        • Baiting you, huh? I get where she’s coming from, too, but the tactic she’s using isn’t winning any friends or influencing any people. Though, honestly, since she’s ready to ‘shake the dust off of her sandals’ she doesn’t particularly seem to care.

          It’s so weird to know I believed the exact same things she says she believes(though I never would have come at someone like she does – just not my style), and now to be an unbeliever. Now none of that, even though I can still speak the language pretty fluently, makes any sense. I mean, I understand the argument, it’s just nonsensical.

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  4. “Within a few clicks of the publish button one comment can take on a life of it’s own, filled with meaning that was never intended, simply because we presume intent upon another that was probably never there.”

    This is a good point. One of the challenges of writing a posts or comments is that we don’t have the advantage of body language. I also concur with Doobster that people have difference lenses — filters.

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  5. Okay, I’m just being nosy here, does this have anything to do with Ark’s ‘Communication Breakdown’ post yesterday that said almost the same thing? Go on, point me to the argument so I have a satisfying lurk at other people putting their feet in it! 🙂

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  6. Ark’s an idiot at the best of times,

    Ah…dear Violet. I am blessed with such friends – like Yogurt, except it has more culture. 😉

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  7. I said (what makes me sad is that she flat refuses to use her own brain.) That sounds crummy now that it’s out. What I mean is that everything has to be filtered through the whole god thing. I did it too.

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    • I knew what you meant. We did it, Alice…we did it. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the person I was then. I fancy myself a pretty strong person, not one given to indoctrination, and yet there I was.

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  8. When the double entendre comes across as a single intender and cats can be pussies and a dog is also a bitch and the bitch of it is they can also be dogs.
    When a writer can be a wronger, when you can make an ass of yourself and be a complete arse, just by trying to right an analogy after having written one while sitting on your fanny.

    I wonder, would it help if we mimed our blogs?

    🙂

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  9. Hi Ruth, an excellent post on the ‘power of words’. I recently commented on another person’s blog, intending my comment to be only complimentary and supportive. I thought I had typed ‘uncluttered’ but the spell-checker changed this to ‘uncultured’. I missed this and clicked ‘Post comment’. I then happened to re-read what I had posted and was horrified. There is what we intend and type and there is what the spellchecker doesn’t intend but alters anyway. Best regards, Phil Stanfield. (I am now re-reading this v-e-r-y slowly…)

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    • Thank you for the comment, philstanfield. Like toothpaste out of the tube, words once spoken, cannot be put back in. Unfortunately I’ve done my fair share of putting my foot in my mouth. We need something a bit tastier than rubber for the soles, I think.

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