Remember the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? We’d taunt it back at someone who had said something hurtful. Even the fact that we were saying it shows the fallacy in the idea. We use it to convince ourselves that the words don’t hurt. As I went through my Twitter feed this morning, I found the following:
Our words have much potency. Therefore, we need to be careful with how they are used. With the end of the school year, I have been having to remind my junior high students to use their words nicely. I had my sixth graders take a piece of paper and write their name on it. Then I told them to punch holes in it. When we were done, after many questions of ‘what in the world are we doing’, I told them to fix the paper. Their solution was to get a new paper or tape it. So, I taped mine and asked if it was the same. They got the point that you can’t fix it exactly. I shared with them that is what our words do to our friends. We may hide the scars inside, but the damage is done.
However, it isn’t just our words. Teenagers are notorious for saying the right things just in the wrong ways. We were constantly getting on our oldest child for that. She was wonderful at seeing things–inconsistencies in us as parents, wrong doing in her siblings, and injustices in the school system. She just had a horrible presentation. We need to be careful of how we say things. Last week, a student greeted me in the hallway. “Hi, Senora Wyatt!” I said hi and continued walking. I then heard the same words, “Hi, Mr. Taylor” expressed to another teacher. Her meaning in her words were two separate identities. With me her words were skipping and bouncing out of her mouth. When she said hi to the other teacher, her words came to an abrupt halt and her feet were dragging in saying it. She said two different things with the same words.
With this in mind, the opposite is true as well. When we are on social media, the internet, writing e-mails, or even regular old-fashioned correspondence, our tone cannot be heard. Our words then become even more important. We need to choose them wisely as we wield them. Words said in jest can be misconstrued when there is no intonation to go with them. To help with this whole issue of social media and communication, a colleague has written a book that has taken her on a whirlwind journey from the concept to the release to the reception. Kindness Wins helps us teach our kids how to use the internet wisely and kindly. Check out Galit Breen’s book. (Well, the picture wouldn’t load, so click here to find it in amazon.)