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Toxic Words

So here we are, about two weeks into the new year. Everyone is clinging hard to resolution motivation, maybe seeing positive results already. Then there is me: my diligence to my New Year’s resolution has only disturbed me. My overdue goal to stop talking about people behind their backs in ways that could be negatively interpreted has rendered me silent in several situations already. Each time I stop, think, and shut my mouth, I feel simultaneously proud and ashamed. Yes, I resisted the urge to share a gossipy tidbit, but the fact that it was such a conscious decision is alarming every time I acknowledge it. Why is it that the age old advice “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” is so often cast aside in favor of damaging smack-talk?

            The initial realization that sparked this resolution was the reality that someone, somewhere, at some time, has spoken negatively about me. I know this to be true because I have a plethora of obnoxious traits—one being my tendency to use words like “plethora” in everyday conversation. I do not say this in a self-deprecating way; no one is perfect, therefore we all have qualities that can potentially be complained about. But what if we just skip all of that extra verbal exhaustion and embrace the idea that when an irritating quality exists or undesirable event occurs, spreading that negative knowledge only makes it worse.

Imagine you sip a glass of milk and realize it has gone sour. Yeah, that would be gross, but does that mean you have to pass the glass around to all your friends and watch them experience the same revulsion? No, just dump it in the sink and go to the grocery store. If this same philosophy could be applied to gossip, maybe less pointless drama would clutter our already busy lives. Chances are, the angry story I am tempted to tell about a girl will benefit no one, so why should I tell it?

            I realize most of this personal reflection probably comes off as hokey and idealistic, but the point was to address how difficult it is, not to instruct everyone to stop complaining. Annoyance and resentment are part of being human. Less than two weeks of 2013 have passed, but millions of hostile comments have been whispered in that time.  It’s a new year, a time to try new things, so I will try to contribute to that poisonous game of Telephone as infrequently as possible, and hopefully my days will be a little brighter because of it.

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