“If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all.” How many of us grew up hearing this dictum? It contains an important reminder that one of the most powerful abilities we have is our ability to communicate. With this ability we can lift people up, or keep them down; we can begin a movement, or crush a reputation; we can even encourage ourselves, or determine our own defeat. And with the ability to transmit our message to everyone on the internet, it becomes even more essential to mind what we communicate. The old rule of thumb was that if you had a bad experience you told approximately 12 people. A relatively conservative estimate states that now when we lodge a complaint on the internet, we communicate it to at least 4,000 people. So it is essential we use this power of communication for good, not for evil.
I was reminded of the power of communication last week when I was at a small Italian restaurant in Stamford, Connecticut. Immediately after being seated I realized that directly to my right, at a table with some friends, sat Frank and Kathy Lee Gifford. Not being a celebrity hound I just set out to enjoy my meal and allow them to enjoy theirs. However, because of the proximity of the tables I realized that whether I liked it or not, I could hear every bit of their conversation. This is when I was reminded of the power of communication. They didn’t know who I was. It would have been easy for me to record their personal quotes about religion, politics and family stories and place them on the internet for everyone to read. Not that they said anything wrong, but any quote can be taken out of context. There are individuals who live off of their proximity to the rich and famous, and those who live off mud-slinging. This does not lead anyone to personal fulfillment or greatness, but only to anger or personal embarrassment. It is a misuse of the power of communication.
The words we use or write about others, and even the words we speak to ourselves have the power to lift up, encourage and allow ourselves and others to achieve our own personal greatness. We have a power that creates profound change in people’s lives and can elevate even people who have never heard something positive about themselves. That power has been magnified by the internet.
From the time we were little children, many of us read stories or watched movies about heroes with super powers or abilities. Yet, we all have an amazing power to heal and lift up others. And similar to many super heroes there is a dark side to our power of communication; we can also destroy lives. So, to all of you super heroes out there, please use your power for good, to lift up others and help them to achieve their potential.
Oh, and as for Frank and Kathy Lee, they are really nice people.