The Power of Words: sight over sound

Dear Daughter is enduring a bout of bullying at school.  Kids can be cruel.  Girls can be nasty.  Teens…well…they’re teens.

Long story short, she’s been the punchline of a few not-so-funny jokes.  Whispered words in the halls, naughty words scratched in her day planner and one extremely derogatory remark scribbled on a teacher’s white board.

Words can hurt.

As writers and story-tellers, we know first hand the power behind them.  They can make us laugh and cry, shout, scream or moan.  They shock us, terrify us, amuse us and frustrate us.  Words are magical. 

But which is more so?  The written word or the spoken word?

Is hearing a story more potent than reading one?  Is that why voice is so important in a great piece of fiction, because the characters themselves leap off the page and into our imaginations?

It’s likely why picture books are so beloved to both children and adults alike.  Not only can we read the words, but we can see the story come to life while feeling the lyrical cadence deep in our soul.

I wonder if that’s why whispered words cut us so deeply?  They cannot be ripped up, erased or thrown in the trash.  Once spoken, they are a living memory not easily ignored.

Which would you choose: to read and not hear or to hear and not be able to read?

10 responses to “The Power of Words: sight over sound

  1. Bullies are such cowards. You can tell because they run in packs for safety.

    All speech isn’t really free. In a sad way, it’s exorbitantly expensive when it comes at the cost of someone’s dignity, happiness, self-esteem.

    Being a musician, I’d have to say I’d choose hearing over sight.

  2. I hate bullies. Tell your daughter we’re all thinking of her, and it will get better.

    I hate to see things written. If someone whispered an ugly name to me, I could pretend not to listen. I could pretend no one else could hear. But if I walked into a classroom to find that ugly name scrawled on the board, I couldn’t pretend anymore. Especially if a clueless person asked what it meant and everyone started laughing.

    I hope your daughter will report these bullies.

  3. That is a horrific choice!! Don’t know if I can make it.

    Bullies are creeps and cowards. They hide behind their ‘friends’ & don’t realize they have no real friends – their only relationships are based on fear.

    Words can cut so very deeply. In my experience, girls do this much more often than boys. It’s can be a real nightmare for the victim. Hopefully your daughter has friends who will band with her – bullies don’t target as often if you’re not alone. Tell her to keep her head up, and not to respond – that only makes it worse. Good luck to her. I hope she has a trusted adult in the school she can speak with.

    • Thanks all on your support for DD. She’s doing fine.

      I asked the impossible questions and don’t know if I can answer it myself. To read or to hear? I don’t know that I could give up either one. I do appreciate your insight and comments as I ponder the affects of losing either of these precious gifts.

  4. I think both would be my eventual undoing, but if I had to choose, I’d pick not to hear. Either way, I think I’d lose a connection to the world – a connection I’d find incredibly difficult to replace given my shy propensities.

    • Victoria,

      In so many ways I lean that way, but then I think of never being able to hear the sweet voices of my kids and their lilting, made-up songs and my heart breaks. So glad I don’t have to make the choice.

  5. Were I to choose, sight would be for me, though sound would be a loss, ’twere it also stripped from me. Letters be the path, that opens vivid windows, upon the world that is, fiery bright it kindles. Magic doth it bring to flame, that hearing does not fathom, for ears alone can never sense, the light within the fire, shining bright within myself, I see the written pyre.

    • If you talk as beautifully as you express yourself on paper, you must be a joy to be around!

      Thanks so much for commenting on such a crazy, yet thought-provoking, topic.

      • I think I’m a joy to be around :-), but unfortunately, I talk like your regular everyday Pirate. For some reason, all I’m well spoken, I don’t speak as I write. I really enjoyed your crazy, thought provoking topic by the way!

      • Thanks!

        And what does a regular every-day pirate talk like? Because I wrote a super fun pirate chapter book and am not sure I got it right at all. LOL. Guess there’s not many pirates on the Midwestern Prairies!

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