The Written Word and the Spoken Word

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Today's Prompt: Do you tend to believe what you read more than what you hear?

The young geography teacher was substituting for our much older and experienced teacher. I don't remember what we were excited about that morning, but when the teacher entered the classroom, we did bother to greet her. She started her class and we went on talking amongst ourselves.

She hauled up on of us and started yelling at him. Another classmate decided to stand up and apologize on behalf of us all. But his first question to the teacher was "Are you mad?"

We watched the teacher's face grow sad until she burst into tears and completely lost control, accusing the poor chap of calling her insane! We had no chance to explain without sounding condescending that he was asking her if she was angry.

I don't remember what happened after that, but it always made me think of how our words, especially the spoken words, can be misconstrued by the listener. Often the listener might completely misunderstand the context, the different connotations of words and tone in which they are spoken, leading to a lot of misunderstanding.

Image: Menno Abbink via Flickr via Creative Commons license

In many ways the spoken word almost demands an instant acknowledgement from the receiver. With the written word, we often have the time to read and re-read, understand the context and the meaning before we respond. The sender of the message also has the time to frame and re-frame sentences and think of how words and sentences will be understood.

Personally, I find it easier to express my deepest thoughts through writing rather than speaking. I feel I am less inhibited and more fluent when I share my feelings through writing.

When I broke up with one of my exes, I decided to write him a letter telling him what I felt about our relationship, or lack of it, and why I was moving on. I compare that to other break ups (oh yes, I've had quite a few!) in which I chose to talk things over. I realize that I was so emotional that I became incoherent.

I'm also more likely to value another's feelings when s/he expresses them in writing. While Michelle Obama spoke of her husband's word being his bond. We live in times where people often say what they don't mean or don't keep their word.

I realize that my husband was the first guy who dared to put in writing his feelings for and intentions about our relationship. The fact that he chose to express himself in writing told me of his commitment. Even more so because he's a lawyer!

As bloggers, we know how powerful the written word can be. Our words are not just a means to express ourselves and to communicate our thoughts, but can be instruments of healing and change for others.

As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. We must put in a lot of thought into what we write. Once written and published, our words are out there, and it is hard for us to take them back. If we are careless about what we write and how we express our thoughts, our words can come back to haunt us.

This is especially true when we write about subjects we have strong emotions about. Often, we end up hurting others and creating a bad impression of ourselves by writing things in the heat of the moment. It is alright to express our negative opinions and share bad experiences, but we must be careful not to write anything defamatory or post as fact things we don't always know to be true.

The written word rules, so long as we put thought and effort to make sure that they convey what we really want to express.

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