krikketgirl: (Smug)
I talk a lot. I talk as part of my job. I talk to my kids. I talk online in a blog. I talk for fun and for profit. And I certainly know what it's like to say the wrong thing at the wrong time...or to say something when I should have waited a heartbeat and not spoken at all. Sometimes, words just fly out not in the right order, and the only harm caused is that I have to stop and explain myself. Sometimes, though, I speak in the heat of the moment, when I haven't reflected on a situation enough to even know how to respond appropriately...and while those occasions are usually few and far between, they are painful.

So yesterday's "Smart Saying" spoke directly to me. "Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him" (Proverbs 29:20).

For some of us, it's hard not to be hasty in words. I think in words; they flitter and dart around me. I find every experience I have translated into words, every emotion tagged with a word. It's ridiculously hard to keep from simply blurting those words out. But here's the thing: words require pondering. As Mark Twain wrote, "The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." Words have power, and it must be harnessed and used carefully--and I find that this is especially so when we're dealing with people. And aren't we always dealing with people when we use words? As soon as our words are in a public forum, they are affecting people.

Surely there can be no more public forum than the Internet. The words I type here I may as well stand on my front porch and shout to the neighborhood at large: I don't know who is reading, and I don't know what they will do with my words. Many of us have become as comfortable with the computer as we are with the phone as we are with face-to-face conversation. But this brings with it all kinds of new issues to deal with when it comes to our words. Who is reading what you write on Facebook? Your kids? Your parents? Your supervisor? Would you want a prospective employer to read that long screed you just posted about your current job? Do you really want your impassioned attack on a former friend to be haunting the Internet forever?

As our communication options have increased, it seems that our sense of propriety when it comes to speech has decreased. Sometimes I shudder at the things I read and hear. A hasty post, a hasty e-mail, words written in the heat of anger--and a friendship is destroyed, a reputation is damaged, a job is lost. And if you've accidentally been on the sending end of those words, you know that they are so very hard to take back.

This parable was written a good long time ago, but it is still relevant. We all must learn to be very careful with our words, whether here on the Internet or behind the doors of our home. We must learn to keep them in their proper place--like fire, they make good servants but very poor masters. Let us not embrace folly by being quick with what they say.

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krikketgirl

June 2015

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