Last week Roland Schoeman of the South African swimming team got into trouble when he called an Indian shouting spectator a monkey after he was goaded into a false start at the Commonwealth Games.
Last week, New Zealand TV host Paul Henry cracked up — for about a minute — over the name of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. “What’s her name? Dick-shit?” He says. “And it’s so appropriate because she’s Indian so it should be dick-in-shit, wouldn’t it?” New Zealand has reportedly issued a formal apology, and the Indian government has lodged a formal complaint against Henry, who has been suspended without pay. See video
And, a few months ago Australian swimmer, Stephanie Rice lost her Jaguar sponsorship after she made a ‘homophobic’ tweet after the Aussies win over the South African rugby team.
Three unrelated and yet perfect examples of the interconnected society we live in.
No longer can you just speak out. No longer can you just say what you want, where you want and how you want.
The Bible verse about the tongue being a two edged sword comes to mind here.
What these incidents teach is that we have to be more vigilant over what we say, when we say it or how we say it. We have to become more aware that the power of communication has now increased because of the power of social media and interconnectedness.
It is not just the 6 Degrees of Separation rule that applies, it is now the potential of words to not just be damaging but to become viral and destroy hard-earned reputations.
Think twice before you tweet, Think twice before you speak is now the new rule.
As that famous quote states: ‘It is better to let people think you are a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt’
P.S – I will never forget the words of a Japanese professor: ‘The meaning to words do not lie in the words we use, they lie in people’s heads’ – Now that is something to think about.