What can cut like a knife, bend like paper, and evaporate like steam? The answer, of course, is a word. Now is the time to cut the cord to network TV, as we have entered an election year, and are subjected to its accompanying flood of inflammatory words. TV can be a real slut when you’re retired (you know – “watch me, oh baby I can entertain you and make you feel so good”). Network TV flaunts its lack of a price tag (“free with an over-the-air digital antenna”), and then fills that air over head with commercials encouraging viewers to spend money for everything from makeup to medication. It’s cold and wet outside; you’re retired; you don’t HAVE to go anywhere (like work) so you curl up on the couch, turn on the TV, and allow yourself to be seduced by the product of marketing personnel who, by dressing sexy images with come-hither words, earn much more money than you ever did. Happily, we now have streaming TV choices that allow us to watch things like “The Crown” with no commercials. Be careful though, because those tricky words are still out there ready to mislead.
Reading the newspaper is my retirement life substitution for driving to work. It is typically a much safer activity than driving to work; however, those easily manipulated words can incite harm. It is usually not the newspaper’s fault, but the fault of a human being’s stupid hurtful words that are reported and shared via the newspaper. Turn the page! Don’t read those words, or if you must, consider the source and choose to be a purveyor of goodness with your words. You can always read the advertisements. These are the newspaper’s equivalent to television’s commercials. I believe those previously mentioned marketing professionals see the public who constitute consumers as stupid (a word forbidden in our home when my children were young). This may be because marketing professionals, with their careful word coupling, are manipulating the spending of individuals with much less disposable, or discretionary, income than they themselves have. I recently saw an ad, that in large letters proclaimed “Sale – One Day Only” and then gave the sale dates as Thursday through Saturday. Another ad (this one for a digital training service) offered “three courses free when you subscribe to unlimited course access.” Words, coming from the keyboards of the unethical, can be very misleading. Uh oh, I hope my words are not stereotyping all persons employed in marketing as being unethical. Words can result in misinterpretation of intent. Words coming from the keyboards of the self-proclaimed ethical can also be misleading. We should be very careful with our words.
Words are talented shape-shifters. Think of the words that have been presented as truths, but were actually lies. Think of the words that are intended to define but actually malign. Think of the words that are meant to compliment but actually criticize (I once had a medical assistant proclaim, when I stepped on the scale in the doctor’s office, “Wow, you don’t look like you weigh that much”). Juggling words can be like juggling razor blades, you or someone close to you can be harmed. Not all people (particularly politicians) should be given unlimited access to words.
Words (and my cat) are my current companions. Much like the words shouted from mountain tops, most of my spoken words go unheard (I love my Cinnamon Girl kitty, but she chooses to ignore words that come out of my mouth – like “get off of the counter,” and “get down from that shelf”). I should amend my riddle to include, “What can be both dangerously potent and completely impotent?” I love words, but like all things I love, I need to remember to handle them with care.