The Unfortunate Power of Words

Elora Apantaku

Eighty-four words. Eighty-four. A mere fraction of the thousands of words we use a day. A few capitalization errors and a spelling mistake were present. That’s all it took to ruin a future. What’s more, they weren’t even spoken. They were typed.

I am a first-year. I don’t know George So personally. I don’t think I spend more time thinking about school shootings than most people do. But I feel compelled to share my thoughts because I know how much devastation one can go through from uttering a few misguided words.

In eighth grade a teacher asked me how I felt. I mumbled that I felt like dying. Two periods later I was called down to the nurse’s office, then escorted by my hysterical mother to an Emergency Room. Did I feel like offing myself? Not really. I wasn’t planning on it. But I just had no other words. From that moment on I had to deal with ongoing depression I had felt up until that point and struggle to maintain an outward appearance of happiness for my mother at all times. Listening to her cry was the worst punishment I ever received. She kept asking why I had said such a horrible thing, and I remember shaking my head in the car, and telling her I just didn’t know.

We’ve all made misguided statements and said things we’re not especially proud of. From making racially incorrect statements to general faux pas, we all make verbal mistakes. I don’t know why someone would choose to write something that threatening on JuicyCampus.com, but I suggest that perhaps the looming threat of midterms was becoming too much to sanely bare. Regardless, considering the website is called JuicyCampus and he misspelled the word “ridiculous”, I can almost assure you it was a spur of the moment thought, and one he thought would probably go unnoticed. Has anyone ever had a xanga? A Livejournal? Any sort of non-professional blog? You know you’ve written stuff you weren’t too fond of because blogs can potentially be read by many people, but they also seem low key. Avoiding confrontation, your mind is free to wander. Unfortunately, in a time where even little things lead to excessive paranoia, I must warn you all to watch what you say.

Personally, I think something should’ve been done. It would’ve been irresponsible of the University not to follow up and inspect the JuicyCampus post. I don’t know why someone would write supposed threats on a supposedly anonymous website. I don’t want to insult his viewpoints by forcing my own on the situation. But, I want you to think about two things: First, how many times have you yelled at someone you were going to kill him? Maybe you never say anything comically vicious, like, “I’m going to rip your guts out”, but you must know someone who does.

And second, have you ever been really stressed – so stressed that you wished everything would just slow down so you could relax? Have you ever mumbled the words, “I wish I was dead” knowing full well that you didn’t actually want to die? We all make mistakes. But didn’t it used to be part of our nature to forgive and give second chances?