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  • Phyllis H. Moore

Warning, Warning, 10 Reasons We Should Avoid Negative Words

I listened to Maya Angelou on a talk show say she did not tolerate negative comments or ethnic jokes in her home. She believed the negative energy of the words could cling to the interior of her house, sticking to her pots and pans, staining her upholstery, lying in wait on her counter tops. This is disturbing when you think of all the negativity being spewed on social and other media. That energy is out there, growing like bacteria in a petri dish. It occurs to me we all have a responsibility to overcome the negativity, especially writers.

I’m new to blogging, so I am taking advantage of the generosity of other writers and bloggers to learn. They are a generous and helpful lot, writers and bloggers. I read an article on writing headlines. The article outlined several types of headlines, noting the ones that drive the most traffic are threatening, fear and anxiety provoking, warnings about what will happen if . . . I had a gnawing after reading that article. A bothersome gnawing, asking me, “What has this world come to?” I remember my parents saying that, watching the evening news in the ‘50’s, ‘60’s, and ‘70’s. Then I said it in the ‘80’s, ‘90’s, etc. I have decided the world comes to what we allow and writers, especially media writers have a responsibility to change the rhetoric and stop the fear. Do we really want to drive readers to our blogs and books because they are afraid?

Spiritual energy has nothing to do with religion. It exists in the universe, no matter our belief system. I agree with Maya Angelou. We impact the universe with our words. Accommodating the public’s negative affirmations to gain traffic based on histrionic headlines is manipulative, in a potentially harmful way. It may not be harmful to the reader, after they read the blog or article and discover the information is not as menacing as the headline, but the anxiety has already been provoked, the fear stirred. Politicians are doing the same thing, provoking fear to garner support.

So, what are 10 reasons we should avoid negative words?

  1. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. We learned this early in life. It’s true. I can attest to the fact that saying something positive will not come back to bite you, but …

  2. It’s the right thing to do, really, the world needs it. The world, the universe, we all need positive energy.

  3. We do not need to provoke fear and anxiety, not one second of it. It may garner more click through, but really, do you want anxiety to be the reason readers are tempted to continue?

  4. Irrational rhetoric is stoked by fear. We see it in our politicians and in posts on social media. Following last year’s Ebola outbreak and terror attacks is crazy-making.

  5. Think about the mindset if the title of this blog was “10 Ways to Have a Positive Impact on the Universe”

  6. That fear and negativity filters down to our children. They hear adults talking to each other and they hear the teasers on the news. It is the basis for prejudice and judgement.

  7. Taking advantage of those people who dwell on what could go wrong and then receive negative affirmation from these headlines is just wrong.

  8. We can start a movement bloggers, writers and other media contributors. Our children can look at media and say “Look at what’s right with the world.”

  9. It’s just not true that “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” They hurt. They whack and thud, and it’s not a one-time deal. People play them over and over again in their mind, a recording of doom, negative self-talk . . .

  10. It’s the right thing to do people. We don’t have the right to scare readers and consumers. We don’t have the right to provoke and stir in this way.

There are probably more reasons not to use negative words and fear to attract readers. I challenge all writers to search their selves and come up with more, share them, and issue their own challenges.

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