Warning: Rant ahead. If you make it through, there will be some really neat videos to watch as your reward!
Lately I am fascinated by the immense power of words. Partially my fascination stems from the fact that our blog is still in it’s infancy stages, and I am beginning to realize the unknown reach and impact our words have on the people who read them.
Yet I am further astounded, because in our current age of access to infinite information, it would seem that words and the way in which they are used have become irrelevant. I find myself guilty of often trying to glean the main idea from a post or article and missing important details in the process. It has become common practice to “pin now, read later” or, what is probably more likely, to pin now and read never. I cringe whenever I find the acronym “TLDR,” (Too Long, Didn’t Read) with a short, simplified synopsis. If you don’t care enough about the subject or someone’s thoughts about it to read the whole article, you are missing out on the entire point the author tried to convey when he or she decided to write about it in detail. I would argue that we often fail to thoroughly read, comprehend, and fully absorb the words written on the page or spoken to us; too often, the result is misinformation, misunderstanding, and misguided judgment. While it might seem like words have become irrelevant, they are actually tremendously relevant. Of the thousands of words we look at every day, only the most meaningful, profound, and shocking words receive attention, and usually only the most brief combinations of words warrant enough respect for people to take the time to comprehend them.
Our daily lives are entirely saturated with words. Consider your Facebook feed, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Linkedin accounts, and whatever else you might be paying attention to while you stare at one of your screens. Think about text messages, emails, news articles, advertisements, and even online dating profiles. All of the outlets named above have one (at least) glaringly obvious aspect in common: the purpose is to limit the words as much as possible to include only the most necessary details required for people make a quick judgment about you or something else. What remains is a tiny snapshot of a bigger, more detailed picture, which can be useful when you simply want everyone to know you are at the beach or the gym. What is lost, however, is the nuance that provides a deeper understanding of you and of the events that are happening in real life. To use an analogy, judging someone based off of their social media accounts is like describing someone’s whole life using a bulleted list of single words. It offers a brief snapshot, but without the nuanced details to put a story into context, the reader loses the beauty of the full picture. There is beauty in isolated snippets, but it is also important to pay attention to how the little things make up the whole idea (or person).
I shouldn’t need to mention both the healing and destructive power of words, but I will anyway. How many times have you been having a terrible day and someone says exactly the wrong thing to push you over the edge? Or maybe the opposite happens, and a person gives you a small compliment or a friendly conversation and you begin to feel happier with yourself. How careless we are with words; every day I notice people in person or through the media saying absurd and hateful things, either because they are oblivious to the impact of their words or because they choose to abuse that power. Those who have a public platform should be especially aware of this responsibility, but they often speak without a second thought. We forget the power we have, when speaking or writing. Simple words can spread strength and beauty and encouragement, but they can destroy dignity and self-worth just as easily. They can spark the most creative imagination and stifle it as well. Words compel radical ideas and movements, and they can influence the opinions of the masses. They can be the catalyst for peace or the reason for conflict. Words have power.
In the spirit of recognizing the beauty and power of words, in all their lovely, painful, and joyful nuance, I have narrowed down a list of some of my favorite poetry slam videos. Yes, poetry slam videos. Laugh and criticize all you want. I am a nerd and a word-lover and proud of it! Take a few minutes to absorb some powerful words, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Anis Mojgani: Shake the Dust
Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye: When Love Arrives
Denice Frohman: Accents
(Speaking of the power of words. This.)
Sarah Kay: If I Should Have a Daughter
Too long, didn’t read?
Can’t help ya there. Read it fo yo’self!