“Freedom of speech” is one of the most quoted phrases and, possibly one of the most abused concepts in the age of Internet and social media. The weight of words is always underestimated or neglected, that even the most cautious person tend to make mistakes. While words are only transmitted through sound, strokes, patterns, or even gestures, it leaves an impact that can greatly affect a person. It either makes or breaks a person, a group or even a nation. Sometimes, the effect is even greater than that of what physical means could possibly do.
The weight of words is so powerful that even minor changes can bring about major conflicts, especially when some words can have their own interpretations by different cultures and nations. Be it adding or removing a word, changing the order of the words, or punctuation marks; bottom-line is, it can mean a world’s difference.
In today’s generation, where “freedom of speech” is “enjoyed” by almost all citizens of the world, we forget to be responsible. Words are not something we can take back after being spoken. We can atone, but the damage has already been done.
On my part, I find it alarming how we, Filipinos, react in social media. Yes, I used react instead of respond because of our habit in saying and doing whatever is at the top of our minds. We have to be mindful of our words and deeds. We have to respond, instead of react. I find it funny how Filipinos can be the greatest ally, as well as the worst enemy, even though we are of the same blood and the same race.
Elitism is not the answer, and will never be the answer. Instead of making fun of people for not knowing, do the world a favour and teach them whatever they do not know. What we lack is educated people who have a heart and patience to teach, at the same time people who have the heart to accept mistakes and learn.
I strongly believe that if we can apply positive reinforcement rather than focusing on the negativity of everything, we can strive to do better. The environment we live on will be more bearable and we will be able to strive for excellence. People will not be tied down by the words spoken against them, and instead live a life where they can exercise their freedom for excellence; seeing themselves as people with value, with dignity.
Respond and not react. Teach and not insult. Positive and not negative.
What about you? Do you know the weight of your words?