growing up, one of the things the mom regularly said to my brothers and me {especially the latter}, was to be careful of what we say, because once our words are out there, it is impossible to take them back.

despite this good advice, on more than one occasion i have allowed my mouth to spew whatever it wanted, resulting in plenty of apologies, and the loss of many hours of sleep as i stewed over what amounts to an unfortunate decision in not keeping my mouth shut. having been the beneficiary of such wisdom at an early age, i still occasionally feel the need to push those boundaries.

back when mom first said this, there really were limited ways that one could wield their words. besides the traditional face to face method, there was the telephone, and of course, the good, old fashioned letter. the one really having staying power, leaving tangible proof behind, was the letter. but think about the process. you not only had to write or type it {by hand!}, then find an envelope, address it, get the proper postage, and then bring it to the post office. while i am sure that plenty of hastily and poorly-worded letters have gone out over the years, given the amount of work that went into sending one letter, i believe that there were more opportunities for level-headedness, calm and wisdom to prevail, and some letters, in the long process of posting, were wisely not sent.

fast forward to the crazy information age we find ourselves in. in haste we can write an email, and before we even have the ability to fully think about what we are actually saying, the Send button is shining in all its glory, waiting to be clicked. voice mail can be saved and broadcast to the entire world, just ask Mel Gibson or Sumner Redstone. and all you have to do is ask the many who have lost jobs, friends and/or relationships over poorly thought-through and speedily posted words on Twitter or Facebook, and you can see that words, and their staying power is alive and well.

the reality in a digital age is that even more so than in the past, you can never take your words back. in a matter of minutes, they can go from your brain to around the world, a digital can of worms that can never be retracted.

long before mom, the apostle Peter wrote similar words to some churches...
If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies. | 1 Peter 3:10
good advice, no matter where and when you live.


bajanpoet said...

Thanks for this ... I needed to hear this. May my words be as gold ....

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