Words Have Consequences

We are living in a world where information — whether true or false — is widely available.  Being informed is a good thing.  Framing opinions as facts is something entirely different because our words have consequences.

As a young girl, I was very sensitive to the words of others.  I remember coming home from school in tears over something someone had said to me.  My mother’s response was always:  “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words never hurt me.”

I chanted that phrase until it was burned in my brain.  Now, decades later, I know that phrase is a lie!  Our words have consequences!

How does this relate to the present?

Social media has become a large part of our culture in the last 10-15 years.  Personally, I love Facebook.  It allows me to keep in touch with long-lost friends and relatives.  I love the option to create a tribe of like-minded people to share thoughts and ideas.  But it can also become a place to threaten, bully, and spread misinformation.

Recently, a member of one of my groups posted a long-quoted lie that has caused lots of damage to people in the group.  As part of our rules against posting such information was violated, I quietly removed the remark and the member.  The spouse of this member contacted me via FB Messenger and asked why I removed the person.  I quoted the rules, and he openly admitted the misinformed quote that was removed.  When I tactfully explained why the remark was misinformation, his response was:  “We never knew that before; it was just what was always taught.”

Bingo!  I had a moment of clarity.

Words Have Consequences

Repeating misinformation or a lie often enough (and long enough) becomes true in most people’s eyes.  There is no need to check the sources, research the truth — just accept it at face value.

Scary as it is, this quote was said by Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Communist Party in Russia, from 1917 to 1924.

Suddenly I understood a deeper truth:  It is easier (in some cases) to believe and repeat a lie rather than to use critical thinking to research the topic ourselves.

Are we good stewards of our words when we repeat such misinformation?  I think not!

Remember, our words have consequences, and some of them are not good!!


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