Tuesday, May 22, 2012

WHAT'S IN A WORD ?

Words matter.

Words can send our spirits soaring.  Words can inspire us.  Words can teach us.  Words can inform us.

Words can hurt us.  Words can damage us.  Words can mislead us. 

Words can bring a smile to our faces.  Words can bring a tear to our eyes.

Words.

If you are blasting social media, specifically twitter, with a barrage of tweets, use those words with care.  To condense a thought to 140 characters including spaces is quite a challenge.  I get it.  But the “canned tweets” with the questionable words?  They are TOO frequent.  They are repetitive.  They are damn annoying.

I’m being petty.  I can simply stop following.  OR, I can do deploy some sort of “zip it” feature where I will not see the tweets.  OR, I can simply leave things alone and stop taking everything so personally.

But then, I come back to WORDS.

I believe any organization that wishes to maintain its reputation and be held in the highest regard by those whom they seek to assist has a responsibility to understand that words matter.  Particularly in a forum where words are the only way to convey the message.  There are no vocal inflections.  There are no hand gestures.  There are no facial expressions.  There are only words.

The words should not offend.  The words should be factual.  If words offend, they hurt us.  If words are not clear or factual, they damage us or at the very least, they mislead us.

Words suggesting food habits can prevent cancer are damaging.  Words suggesting a particular food might help prevent breast cancer are misleading.  Words about the history of the pink ribbon may be factually inaccurate as a historical accounting should start at the very beginning.  It's possible the beginning of the pink ribbon history is omitted.

Words about posting our bra color on Facebook can bring tears to many eyes when you listen to the words of a young mommy, @whymommy, Susan Neibur, who died earlier this year.  Awareness is so 1995.  We don't need awareness.  We need action.  In 2012, we NEED action.

Sometimes, the words just don’t make any sense. 

Prevent breast cancer with early detection?

I’m sorry.  Those words need to be reworded.  If breast cancer is detected early, you already have breast cancer.  In other words, nothing was prevented.

Until there is a cure, prevention is key?

Until there is a cure, we got nothing.  There is no way to prevent breast cancer.

I'm not being overly sensitive.  I am being acutely aware.  Aware when things are slightly askew.  Ignoring minor inaccuracies is no longer acceptable.  It keeps us stuck with the status quo.  The status quo has gotten us nowhere.  The status quo has us doing little more than marching in place.  

Please take special care with words.  Please use words responsibly.  When all you have are your words and your words are representing you, those words that are misleading others may be the very words that harm you or damage your reputation.

Words matter.  

13 comments:

  1. Ann Marie,
    Words matter a great deal. This is one continuing theme I write about too.

    You've done a great job choosing your words for this post. I especially like these, "the status quo has us doing little more than marching in place." Well said.

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    1. Thank you, Nancy. YOUR words always mean a great deal to me.. and your words on Nancy's Point are always inspiring and thought provoking.

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  2. "Authors Note" ...

    My point... in little more than an hour this morning, here are two of five tweets:

    "Kick these food habits to the curb to prevent breast cancer"

    "Until there is a cure for #cancer, prevention is the key! Please RT if you agree!"

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  3. Thanks, AnneMarie, for sharing your thoughts with us. I do agree. However - and I like to know your opinion - after the diagnosis I found it useful to change my food habits. There are studies showing certain relation between breast cancer and some kind of food, like meat. I did not eat meat in my "previous life" and I got the disease all the same. But still, eating a lot of vegetable and fruit makes me feel that I'm doing something. Lots of love,

    Grazia

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    1. Eating healthy and exercising is very important. These are not preventions. We are reducing our risk. And even with the best habits, some of us will still develop breast cancer. I don't like it when anyone makes it seem like we have ANY CONTROL over who will get the disease and who will be lucky. It's irresponsible especially when it's an organization that promotes education and breast health.

      Love to you!!

      xoxox

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  4. Words are important! I'd love to know who wrote these two tweets so that I can respond to them and redirect them.

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    1. I exercised restraint here in naming anyone but I did mention this a few times to these folks (privately).

      Yesterday, when I saw "Prevent breast cancer with early detection" I just got irritated. I've heard too many people say, "How did I get cancer? I always go for my mammograms." That statement perpetrates the continuance of MISinformation. This is an organization whose cornerstone is about education.

      Awareness to Action, my good friend. Taking action in any way possible. I appreciate YOUR help!

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  5. You are so very right...words DO matter! And in this case, not only are those words misleading, but they blame those of us who have been diagnosed. I have a cousin who is probably the healthiest person I have ever known: she is a vegetarian, exercises often, you name it - she does it. On what shall we blame HER cancer?

    Just as you are tired of misinformation...I cannot take an more "blaming." I did not eat, drink, think myself into cancer! We all know people who have HORRIBLE diets and habits and never get cancer, as well as those who do it all "right" and do. ENOUGH BLAMING!

    Those words are not spoken by people who have BEEN THERE. They are spoken by those who fear being there, who want to believe that they can do it "better" than we have. Fools...

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    1. Lori,

      Not only a response here but an entire blog entry?? You are an amazing and inspiring friend. My world is a better place because you are part of it.

      xoxox

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  6. I especially dislike "prevention" is the key and how many foundations seem to be working more toward this. You are correct that a "cure" is the most important thing, especially when you are the one afflicted with cancer. Thanks for this blog.

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    1. Thanks, Kate for sharing your thoughts with me. No wording that even hints that we are in control is acceptable to me. Just my opinion but these words have held us back. It won't change until we make it change.

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  7. I love this post! I used to study how framing of the "news" impacted our attitudes about certain illness - at that time I was interested in mental illnesses and eating disorders. But now, I'm seeing a boatload of language that sends me round the bend. The whole awareness thing needs to be reframed. If we have to focus on awareness, let's focus on awareness of metastatic disease!!!!!! And work to treat it effectively. My mother died of MBC in 1991 - she felt her world grow very very small, and she felt like people gave up on her. We didn't know what to do. I understand it a little better now. I also hate the blame game, it's so random. And I don't like the war images - I don't want to fight my body. I want to help it. But those are my own peculiarities, of which there are many. Anyway, thanks for your voice and your energy! I need to get back to writing too! <3

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    1. We DO need to talk. Your interest in the wording around mental illness is something that means much to me, too!!! My dearest friend is on the board of NAMI and does great things on Long Island and in NYS. Thanks so much sharing your feelings with me. MBC needs to be on the top of the list.... that's where it's at for me.

      xoxox

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