You’re upset. I can tell. Your words spill out and bleed the page with all the emotions you’ve bottled up inside. It’s not a bad thing, your ritual of expressing your thoughts and feelings. Being a writer, I fully support freedom of speech. I just feel like you should know that before you continue reading.
I’m just frustrated.
Because words matter. They matter to me. They matter to you. They matter to the people who read your words.
We’re living in a “140 characters or less” society. In one day, 500 million Tweets are sent out into the world and 4.75 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook. Being only one person, these numbers could make you feel rather small. They might make your one tweet and Facebook post seem obsolete.
But your words aren’t.
Because they still matter.
Have you ever read comments on articles or YouTube videos? Have you ever clicked on a hashtag and scrolled through the content it holds? Have you ever scrolled through Facebook and noticed the words that are posted on the internet? It’s a powerful tool, this social media. Situations can blow out of proportion as things turn viral. Movements can start through hashtags. People can band together over YouTube videos.
Social media users came under fire during the announcement of the Ferguson grand jury decision. I watched Twitter explode after Mr. McCulloch argued that the media was looking for anything to latch onto in this case. I read people’s anger and outrage, their words written in haste and in the heat of the moment. I’m not saying that I completely agree with the grand jury’s decision. But I think I have to agree with some of what Mr. McCulloch said.
Because I’ve grown up in this social media age. I’ve watched good and decent people make themselves look foolish because of the things they post on Facebook. I’ve sat at my computer, jaw dropped, as I read comments made toward others that would never be said if the person were in the same room as the writer.
As I watched Twitter erupt during the days following major decisions in America, I finally had to stop looking. Because I found it hard to sort through the crap to find tweets that mattered. Words matter. Even on the internet, they matter. I believe that they may even matter more on the internet. Perceived anonymity should never be an excuse to write something in haste, something dripping with anger.
To the person behind the profile, never forget, your words matter. This isn’t a call to “spread positivity.” It’s a call to think before writing, to remember that your words are important. It’s a call to ask yourself if a post is adding to angry noise or contributing to dialogue.
As I look around at the words plastered across the internet, my heart grows heavy. If you want to lose all hope in humanity, scroll through comments people leave. They attack people they don’t know, people they will never meet. They draw conclusions. They make assumptions.
But even these words matter. Even comments. Even Tweets. Even status updates. They matter just as much as a person-to-person conversation.
They have the ability to build people up or tear people down. Fight the urge to hide behind a profile, a username, perceived anonymity. Because anonymity today is anything but anonymous.
Please, person behind the profile, remember that your words matter.