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Truthful Lies: America’s Imbalance

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Truthful Lies: America’s Imbalance

In the real world, statements are made, without regard for consequences. Is it possible to “unsay” something? To take it back? Rudyard Kipling said it best, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” As a child, I played a game called gossip. It was usually at a slumber party and required all the participants to sit in a circle. The first person would whisper a secret to the person beside them. That person then whispered the secret to the person beside them, but told it in their own words. The last person in the circle was to announce the secret, as they heard it. I was always astonished, not only by how much the story had changed, but by how excited the participants were to tell it. My grandmother used to say, “Be careful what you say, because once the words are out, you can’t take them back.” Although she was nobody famous, she had a firm grasp on the impact words could have on a person’s life. When I think of a drug, I think of something that changes a person, either physically, mentally, or both. Think about how you feel when you hear, or read something about another person. Your reaction is based on many things. Suppose you are a person, with little means, who struggles every day. One day you hear that someone who is not only famous, but wealthy has lost all their money. You don’t even know this person, but those words have somehow made you feel better. It is almost like vindication, for all the times you have had to struggle. Those words have changed you mentally. Would you have felt the same way, if the person was your neighbor? There is a cost to fame and words can not only give it, but also take it away. Every day movie stars and politicians have things written about them. Those stories help people to formulate an opinion about someone they don’t even know. Ninety percent of the stories are not even true, but once out the words can’t be taken back. They can ruin lives, or they can create one. Just like a drug can make a person feel invincible, so can a well written article. They start to believe the stories themselves and become a different person. In many cases, the writer gains fame as well. The one holding the pen gets an undeniable rush, but like a fix, the next story must be bigger and have more impact. Although the stories about famous individuals are predominant, it is not to the exclusion of the stories about nobodies. Many times these stories get bigger and gain more attention, because of the “It could happen to you” scenario. The presence of these “tales of woe” is why they developed the website “snopes”. I have yet to gain a full understanding, but it seems like the more violent, sad and indescribably devastating the story, the more people want to read about it. Just like a junkie needs their drugs, we can’t seem to get enough of the drama. I can only equate it to driving past a horrific accident – you don’t want to look, but you can’t seem to look away. Unscrupulous people use this raw emotion to gain their readers trust, sympathy and in the end, their money. They are like a drug dealer, but they deal in words. They draw you in, with a story. It usually involves something devastating that a normal person can visualize and relate to. In the end they win, because they make you feel like you are their salvation. We now live in an electronic era. Our words are transmitted across the world in a millisecond. Between Facebook and Twitter our lives have taken center stage. No longer can you speak softly to a friend, about something you heard. Now your words are emblazoned on every computer screen and many times taken out of context. Cyber bullying has become common place and many people choose suicide, because they feel they can’t fight this faceless battle. Most people do not even realize how much control they have relinquished to the faceless masses. In the end, it is each one of us that gives their words power. We perpetuate the stories and feed the beast. We are drawn in by the rush that the game gives us, until it doesn’t. Sometimes the words create fame where there was none, but sometimes they destroy lives. Most times it happens in the blink of an eye, without our realization. I ask again, is it possible to “unsay” something? To take it back?

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