Sticks and stones and bullshit

I don’t watch TV, rarely watch movies, and don’t know who a lot of famous people are.

So if I know Will Smith hit Chris Rock at the Oscars earlier this week because of a tasteless joke Rock made about Smith’s wife, I assume you also know.

Others have picked the event apart from a variety of angles: race, gender, humor, ableism, violence, etc. I’m not going to address any of those. 

The sentiment that applies to all people—that I’ve seen explicitly spelled out in multiple places is: words don’t hurt.

I wonder about the inner lives of people who make this assertion.

Every adult I know can think of something that was said to them at least a decade ago that hurt them and still lives inside them. A parent, a sibling, a teacher, a friend, an enemy, some random stranger with an off-the-cuff comment.

Some of those comments affected people’s self-perception forever. Lots of people avoid specific activities (math and singing immediately come to mind) because of feedback they were given in elementary school. 

I asked friends on social media the earliest memory they have of people saying something that hurt their feelings. Everyone who answered is between 45 and 50 years old. Two answered younger than five. All of the rest but one were younger than ten. One was in early high school. 

People remember mean things said to them for decades. Because … they hurt.

In the same post, I asked about the severity of the meanest thing said to them in the last three to five years. Some people have no recollection of anything mean in that time frame (huzzah!). Others are or were working through these things with a therapist.

Words hurt.

Be mindful of how you wield them. 

(Not just negative—words can have phenomenal affirmative powers as well.)

2 thoughts on “Sticks and stones and bullshit”

  1. I saw that post and thought to answer … Only … I couldn’t properly recall what the earliest incidence might’ve been. In a way … I’m not sorry for the tears. The world will unfortunately be filled with people saying mean things to one another, and the early experiences might’ve just helped me be more resilient.

    • But the tears and resulting resilience still points to—words hurt.

      (I might be more grateful for resilience if my family of origin wasn’t the primary place I experienced this. I imagine people who were chronically bullied at school might have a similar mindset? I don’t know.)


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