Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Power of Words

I haven't posted as much lately. Sorry. I have a craft order that's looming over me with a deadline that's past me already. I just can't get this one item to work out for some ungodly reason. And in doing that, I've neglected all things writing, including the blog.

On my mind tonight is the topic of words. Obviously I feel that words are incredibly powerful, or I wouldn't be a writer. Nor, I suppose, would I have my profile line that I have up there. I do believe words can uplift, and at the same time, they can literally disembowel someone. It's up to us, the writer, to chose which words to apply, which words to say. We can move someone to tears. We can create outbursts of laughter and make soda spew on a screen. And we have the wonderful ability as writers to delete, to do revisions and rewrites. We can kill someone off with their real name and it's okay, because we know it'll be changed in the next round of revisions.

But what about the words that are out there, the ones others have already seen typed and there's no going back? It's more powerful, I think, than saying the words that are heard rather than read. Reading is so intimate, so personal. Someone has taken the specific time to say something to you, so you know that whatever they're saying is important to them, worthy of their precious time. Sometimes in life, even as we type, we do have the ability to remove the words, like on a message board, or on a blog. Life chat doesn't provide that. Once it's out, it's out, and if you're in a chat ROOM, there's no telling how many people saw what you said and whom you said it to. That may seem like nothing to some of you out there, but my life is spent online. My friends are online friends. And yes, they're true friends, ones I speak with regularly on the phone, ones that we plan and meet up with. Those of you in my Austin group have met Shari, whom I originally met on Woman's Day forums. She planned it and came here, twice now, to visit me in person. She knows me. KNOWS me, my children, my life. She's not the only one, either. I cannot tell you the number of people I have met face to face when I originally knew them online first. My love included.

So yes, even online, the words hold the power, and they're important, and should be used carefully and with great, great thought behind them.

With the words comes tone. Some people are just really bad at expressing their tone online. I happen to be really good at it, but I think it's because I'm a born writer and I can convey emotion, feeling, my complete thought onto a screen. Not everyone has that ability, so one person may type something to another person, and the 2nd person takes the message completely different than it was intended. I've seen it happen time and again.

When I left Woman's Day, I had a very, very good friend that left with me. Several of us were tired of a particular twit that lives out in California and loved to tell vicious lies about me on a regular basis. We created our own community where WE could enforce rules, where WE could express feelings and opinions in a safe place where random members couldn't participate, and yes, even where WE could DELETE as we saw fit. It was beyond intimate, and we made a family out of it.

One day, I disagreed with what this friend was saying and doing, and I typed out a post that expressed my concerns. Immediately I knew (after re-reading it) that it didn't come across quite as I meant it, and deleted the post. She'd read it already, which I knew (it was to her and another girl at the time.) I immediately called both individuals to talk rather than type so that I knew no misunderstandings would occur. The 2nd girl understood what I was saying completely. The first, the one I first started typing about here, considered me dead.

For months, literally, I tried to make it work. Eventually, her animosity became so great that it caused divisions on our new, intimate message boards. There was a split. Some stuck by me, and some went with her. I lost a really good friend over words I typed. Over opinions I typed. I seriously thought our friendship would have lasted past fights or differences. Apparently the friendship wasn't as strong as I had thought. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her at least once, and January 10th was the one year anniversary of the split.

I've said this many times: I do not feel like you can hate someone unless you loved them first. Both of them, love and hate, are the most powerful of emotions, so I don't think it's too far off in thinking that there's a fine line that separates them. And in an instant, that love you feel can flip on you and your strong emotion changes shape and changes names and becomes this infection that just eats away at your soul.

This is particularly on my mind tonight as I watch two very dear friends have a battle of words. Both of them witnessed the incident I mentioned earlier. Both know what I went through over it. I having that knowledge, I can look at the two of them and see a new incident just waiting to happen. And I'm powerless to stop it, really. So I did what I do best: I wrote. To them. I reminded them of the pain of words, of the lack of removing the words from the memory of the one who read it, who it was intended for. I don't know if it will do any good, but since that's all I had, I had to use it. And I have the very distinct feeling that one is not realizing how hurtful her words were, and by the time she does, I can only pray it's not too late, and that hopefully she's not suddenly feeling what I felt a year and a 1/2 ago.

Regret is one of the worst emotions in the world. I think I could handle dealing with hate more than I could regret. As much as I hated Jon (dead ex), I never really regretted anything. As much as I hated the rift between my friend and me, I didn't regret it because I knew I was right and that she very much over-reacted. Regret is what I think of when someone is dying, because when you get to regret, it's too late. It's too final. There's no turning back. There's no making it right. It just...is.

Of all the emotions, out of the rainbow of feelings we humans have been given, I think there is not one that is sadder, not one that's more tragic, than that one: Regret.

Time does heal wounds, as we all well know. But the scars...sometimes they remain forever, regardless of the pain fading away.

2 comments:

Karyn Lyndon said...

Gee, you sound depressed. Maybe it's just after the birthday party blues. On a lighter note you've been TAGGED. Go to my blog and you'll see what that means.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

No, it's more like watching a friend being a butthead and not being able to do crap about it. Watching a friendship between two of my closest friends dissolve just sucks.