The one where we grow up and use big words

The one where we grow up and use big words

I once comforted myself with the thought that as we grew into adults, the “putting down the childish ways” thing would come easy. I sling words for a living, and the impact of using them is never lost on me. When you break down a word, each syllable and letter crucial to the context, you see the casual misuse of them in a different light.

Saeed Jones once said, “The thing about doing hurtful things to me is that I’m a writer.” My family knows at any given moment I may stop everything to write down a spoken phrase or idea that’s revealed itself. They say, “Uh oh, we’d better straighten up or Mom is going to write about us again.” George gave up long ago and has succumbed to whatever I decide to write about him.

I always chuckle when I read a quote like this because they come in varying memes and forms. But even though we laugh, we know that through our words there will be a well-crafted reply. Writers seek their own reckonings through a careful crafting of verbiage, and when done right, can slide into your conscience like a misled DM.

I like being an opinion writer with a bit of ghostwriting and news-style thrown into the cauldron for good measure. You grow a thick epidermis when sending your thoughts out into the world, but it never gets easier when people decide bitter words are the answer to what ails them. It sometimes stuns what forward-facing, friendly faces will say behind a screen. It’s the downfall of social media when used in the wrong way. Platforms are a tool that is beneficial when used wisely, but in the wrong hands it’s a weapon.

I once thought hearty debate, maybe a differing of opinions, made good fodder for think pieces on what divides us. You believe this way, and I believe that way. I never believed what divides us in opinion (let alone a refusal of facts) would translate to petty warrings, an unmasked parody divergent from reality.

There must be a salve for this gaping wound, this pulsing gash that produces a foul stench. Or as Mr. Garvey from the Key & Peele sketch, “Substitute Teacher,” says forcefully, “Churlish.” Now there’s a word if ever there was one.

The spaces I create are my own, and anything I do that takes up space as a freelancer or ghostwriter is done by a set of standards I hold myself to. There are moments I dig inside of words and phrases to get to their root, their absolute meaning in the most intricate of terms. It benefits myself and especially the person who’s reading it.

Our English and language arts teachers labored over making sure what we were writing and reading made sense to us. If we stayed at a second-grade writing and comprehension level, we wouldn’t be progressing. It’s safe to say many of us made it out of grade school and high school better people. We learned and put our knowledge to good use at a personal level as we moved into jobs, relationships and life.

I don’t have to agree with you on every level for me to be kind. It takes the smallest of efforts to swallow harsh words and even less of an effort to not type them out and hit send. Let’s practice this a bit as our community sets itself straight after a wobbly year. We may have revealed different sides to ourselves through the chaos, made choices and followed rules, but we can adjust the mask — taking it off and folding it up as that time comes — and be better people for it.

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