The Power of Words

Beyond the multitude of spoken and signed languages, words have a severe power that can make or break a person, group of people, a community, a society, a culture, even the world. Words are used to label things, to give construct to abstract ideas and ideals, and more importantly, to control others. When we wish to change behaviors, we label certain behaviors with just the right words, and poof, behaviors change.

Some words are even so powerful that just the mere act of reading the word will alter behavior. Take *yawn* for instance. Normally, when you see someone *yawn* it tends to be contagious, but just now, typing the word *yawn* has made me, well, *yawn*. Can you honestly say you didn’t *yawn* at all while reading this paragraph? Leave me a comment telling me whether or not you *yawned* during or after this paragraph. *Yawn*

Words have the power to warp our sense of direction, skew our view of time, and enhance our abilities to differentiate colors and shades. Derren Brown, the famed mentalist, uses words to control people’s physical behavior. Adolf Hitler used words to influence Nazi Germany. Brain washing, aversion therapy, gas lighting; all use words (sometimes paired with images and forced illness) to control thoughts.

That being said, it really is no surprise that this current decade is full to the brim with control words. Racism. Appropriation. Terrorist. Freedom. Safety. Oppression. Feminism. Age. Weight. Sexuality. Fear. Comfort. As humans, we have a natural aversion to punishment, at least, the majority of humans do. We hear the key words, and either don’t want to be associated with them our of fear of punishment, or desire to be associated with them out of fear of punishment. Political correctness. Social justice. Fairness. Equality. Segregation. Separation. Unity. Rebellion. Uprising. Peace. Chaos.

One single word can be the deciding factor in whether someone likes someone else, or does not like them. One. Single. Word. Even though words do not change reality, they certainly have an impact on how reality is perceived. Media tends to use this power to influence a multitude of people, especially those who typically get their news from only one or two main sources. Just the right wording will create a filter, and that filter will alter the way reality is perceived; whether right or wrong.

So, we hear the key words, and we act accordingly. How do we fight back, and take control of our own perceptions of reality? It takes a conscious effort. Developing a competing hypothesis of ideas or predisposed thoughts is one way to reduce the power of words that create bias. Seek evidence to support either hypothesis, and allow the evidence to weight your actions. Another way to reduce the power of words over your perception is to react less. Did something someone say offend you? So what? Nonreaction negates the power of the words.

So far the 2000s have been wrought with offense, political correctness, and division. We are primed and ready to take on the new Roaring 20s; let’s make it a decade of unity, truth, and liberation.

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