To making words matter

Working from home, in complete isolation for most part, allows me to get away from the unnecessary clutter of words around me, in meetings, by the coffee machine, in the lift, early in the morning. I have not been one for small talk for over a decade now, taking more than or even just my share of voice in a meetings or social engagements. Because it felt pointless for most part. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to talk. Boy do I love to talk, but rarely about things that don’t matter much, not to me any way. It was a constant struggle for me to not walk out of meetings the minute conversations got unnecessary. And suddenly, I don’t have to deal with them anymore. Suddenly, I have so much more bandwidth to just create things, dig deep into ideas I had forgotten about over the last ten years in the theatre of extroverted conversationalists, draw inspiration from sources I didn’t realize held so much potential, to just work. And for that, I am grateful.

But the best part about working from home is also by far the worst part. In the absence of people around me, every little 10 minute break during the day comes sprinkled with opinions on social media. Now, I love opinions. But the way we throw them around these days, in 140 characters, in tiny comment boxes, full of quick judgments and labels. The number of times I have fallen prey to exactly what I have been complaining about in the last few months is scary, bordering on hypocritical even. I deactivated my profiles once to get away but it is no longer a feasible option for me.

I have given in to the fact that for someone as opinionated as me, this need to voice every opinion, with no fear of judgment or looking stupid, is never going to really go away. My words, they fly. Sometimes in judgment, sometimes in reaction, sometimes in rage. They build themselves up but fall with a thud. Or they hang in the air like a hot, humid afternoon. They tumble out, unannounced, sometimes they shine, sometimes they look so bitter that they are beyond redemption. But the worst part? They sound meaningless to me when the moment has passed.

For the longest time, I remember being all about long form. I probably still am. I don’t see a lot of Facebook status updates that are as long as mine. But there is something about instant gratification of having said what I needed to and feedback too quick, too simplistic to really matter, that has started to trouble me even as I go on and on, unhinged. Long form on the other hand, lets me think, form my words in ways that make sense, check my own privilege and quick reactions to benign conditioning. It is time I got back to doing this more often for myself in an effort to understand the sum total of where my reactions are coming from and whether they make sense or not in the larger scheme of things.

Over the last few months, I have realised over and over again that all I really have are words. In 2000 words or 140 characters, blog posts or WhatsApp, rarely perfect, sometimes harsh. The least I can do is make them matter. Or at least try to.

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