WE lost something when, as a culture, we jettisoned the old folk, saying: "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you." Over the last half-century, with the rise of the notion of self-esteem and increasing numbers of studies into bullying and emotional pain, we appear to have decided that there is no value in saying: "They're only words." Nowadays, researchers investigating bullying at Iowa State University tell us that "sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can kill".
Today, words proliferate. We are surrounded by a digital babble, of twitter and other social media and, for our own good health, we cannot afford to give these words any more power than they already have by taking them too seriously. We can't afford, for instance, to give Twitter trolls any more sense of empowerment than they already have, by considering their words worthy of police and legal attention. We drop the old "sticks and stones" adage at our peril.
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