I wake up this morning to find my social media feeds laden with words such as Broken Britain, shame, bigots, vile, and, above all, hate. Words are powerful things. We use them to communicate but use them often enough and they seep into our brains and twist the way we think about ourselves and those around us. We bandy them around unthinkingly, upping the ante as we try to outdo ourselves and each other on extravagance and create a whirlwind of desperation and destruction.
“Oh God, I had such a bad time at the party last night.”
“I know, it was, like the worst night of my life.”
“I’m going to shoot myself in the face. It was so fucking awful…”
A typical teenage description of a bad evening, complete with smiley faces and lols, the language of despair and extreme violence has become the norm. We are all guilty of not protecting our language, our brains and our society from being sucked into the pit. I don’t actually hate beetroot, I actually have nothing against it as a vegetable and accept that it is probably very good for you and many people find a great deal of pleasure in eating it. Yet all too often I’ve used the word “hate” to describe something as inconsequential as a vegetable.
A silly example perhaps but one of many and it has to stop – we have to relearn how to talk, to think before we speak. I’m not talking about a world filled with memes of fluffy kittens but of using language carefully and positively, of looking for the exact meaning rather than the knee-jerk negativity into which we’ve programmed ourselves.
People say our society has fragmented over this referendum and are casting around for who to blame – another of those words. We are all to blame, we must all bear our share of the guilt, and we must all work together to reunite our society, mend our belief in our common humanity and find a common joy in living. And remember, write and talk with care. Our words matter.