Viewpoint: Words are like my worn bike brakes: use with caution

One morning I frantically rode my bike trying to make my 8 a.m. class, and as I approached the bike rack, I hit the brakes — and promptly ran into the bike rack.

I didn’t think much about it because I’m a little uncoordinated when it comes to bikes. This year alone I’ve run over a girl’s flip-flop (while it was on her foot), crashed into a parked van, run into the curb and caught my tire on the sidewalk (and hit my head when I crashed). I’ve also let my sweater get caught up on my front tire.

Until this past week, I thought it was just my uncoordination with bikes. Then I let my roommate borrow my bike, and she promptly informed me that my brakes were awful.

Maybe I’m not such a bad rider after all.

I’d used my brakes so much they didn’t even touch the tire enough to slow me down anymore.

In this fast-paced world, we tend to speak quickly and bluntly, rarely applying the brakes to our own speech.

My worn-out brakes are like the same-old words people use every day.

Take the word “sorry,” for instance. Has someone ever told you about something bad that happened to them and you immediately said, “I’m so sorry!”

“Sorry” is a word that once indicated an apology for something we did wrong. Why do we say it as if everything is our fault? That might not be our intention, but that’s the original meaning of the word.

How about the word “love?” Do you really love that song? Or do you just like it?

Words like “sorry” and “love” spill out of our mouths without even a second thought from us.

What if we said the words that we actually mean? If we do that, our words will have more meaning. It’s possible the word “love”
can’t be applied to both macaroni and cheese and our grandparents.

Why do people get stuck repeating the same words all the time? Think about it.

I think about how philosophers and great people said words that inspire us today. Did they wear out words like we have done?

I believe if we were more intentional in the words we use, we might be able to say something that will inspire the generations to come.

Let’s take words such as “love,” “sorry” and “awesome,” which actually is meant to glorify someone or something, and use more deliberate words to describe our feelings.

If we take the time to think about the words spilling out of our mouths, we might be able to prevent ourselves from saying something stupid — something that sounds great in our heads but just doesn’t sound right. Or something that was supposed to be a joke, but actually might be offensive.

We need mental brakes just like my bike needs physical brakes.

We have the ability to prevent these moments by fixing the problem.

Think about our words.

My brakes got worn out on my bike, and now I can’t stop like I should be able to. In the same way, my words have gotten worn out and I can’t seem to be creative enough to express myself without using the same old phrases.

Let’s not keep using worn-out words. Let’s talk with intention and meaning.

Words have more value that way.

Linda Wilkins is a freshman journalism major from Tyrone, Ga., and is a staff writer for the Lariat.