The Keyboard is Mightier than the Sword

by attackofthelines

Words are powerful indeed. They spark wars, state peace treaties, destroy reputations, establish personalities, build relationships and break them.

Maybe that’s why heroes and villains have their payabangan moments before every fight. The villain needs to insult the hero first, and then the protagonist retorts with his good vs evil speech. Of course the better lines would have to go to the hero.

Kidding aside, the power of words have reached a new height with the Internet. While the Web contains a mix of images, videos, and other audiovisual elements, it is mostly made up of words. You type in words in your favorite search engine to retrieve pages containing more words that state the information you want. Hello Wikipedia. Your blog posts are perpetually made up of the written word; even photo blogs have words to describe the images that you see. You either use some particularly imaginative words or direct and simple crass ones when you rant on Facebook, Twitter, or on Tumblr.

Companies, products, brands, governments, personalities, and whatever and whoever else use words to communicate, inform, and project an image.

Not to mention that you ultimately use words to communicate through e-mail, FB messages, Twitter replies, blog comments, and YM chat.

Just as your words can and will be taken against you in a court of law and in real life, they can and will make or break you on the Internet.

A slightly misworded status message can produce an entirely different meaning, a single tweet can start a Twitter war (hello Justin Bieber and John Mayer), what started out as a mere “speaking out my mind” stat can either garner you a wave of supporters or get you a hate club. Even if the Internet is supposed to be a free-for-all kind of thing, you still have to be careful of what you say.

In the OrCom sense, organizations take great stock on what they say and what is being said about them on the Web. Wise companies know what kind of information to reveal, the right kind of words to say to their target stakeholders, and even when they put up blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts, they know that more than keeping their audience engaged, it’s as important to keep their image and reputation in check. On the other hand, even the lack of online presence can say as much about the company. People can take it against the organization in a way that it seems closed off from people or that they just don’t have any interest in talking to their stakeholders through the internet. In these times, that’s not the best move to make.

Thing is, the Internet is one huge grapevine where everything gets known to everybody in just one second. With just one click on the “Send,” “Tweet,” “Share,” or “Post” button, whatever it is that you wrote gets broadcasted on the whole of Netdom. Even if privacy settings stand in the way of other people looking into your message, it still gets known by people who matter to you.

On the organizational scale, what they write is right there for everyone to see, share, comment on, praise, and criticize.

What’s particularly amazing (and terrifying) about the Internet is that everyone can respond to any message you make, and more often than not, people read and believe what their own kind is saying about an issue.

Furthermore, what you say, nay, write on the Web stays there and can even transcend the boundaries of virtual reality. So the “delete” button is there for a purpose. It’s just as easy and as fast to retweet, reblog, share, and copy-paste-save. By the time you realize that there is something wrong with what you posted, it’s already far too late. Worse, there is written proof that you indeed said what you said. What this means is that you have to be really very careful with anything you post.

In the end, it is still the written word that wins wars, whether they may be in the real world, or on Twitter. And if in times past, it’s the pen that is mightier than the sword, then today, it’s the keyboard that wields the real power.