Communication

Quantity and Quality of Words

There is a way to use a large number of words to say very little; there is also a way to use a few words to say a great deal. An example of the first is the typical academic writing. An example of the latter may be found in the works of exceptional writers.

Missing Words

A few words appear to have gone missing. A missing word from our vocabulary means that some experience is missing from our life. Words such as “grace” and “disgrace” are no longer used that much in the discourse of the “advanced” states.

Cliches

There is a danger in treating wise sayings as cliches. Just because we may have heard an idea over and over again does not make it false.

Words of wisdom, precisely because they are timeless, are at risk of being dismissed as cliches. Parents and teachers must alert young people to this danger. Wise sayings, far from being cliches, are statements of truth. A few examples follow.

Loose Lips Sink Ships. We should speak cautiously. We need to consider the effects our words might have on others before we speak.

We Reap What We Sow. Our life turns out according to the foundations we have laid earlier.

A Stitch in Time is Worth Nine. Doing something important at the right time can avoid many troubles later.  

Pen and Sword

The pen is mightier than the sword. The force of argument is stronger than the force of arms.

Free Speech

How much or how little difference free speech makes depends on where it is practiced. In societies that tolerate freedom of speech, speaking freely appears to carry relatively little weight. On the other hand, in societies where freedom of speech is restricted, words spoken freely appear to carry more weight. Why?

In freer societies, there are so many different opinions being expressed at any given time that no single opinion is taken too seriously. The many diverse opinions all competing for a hearing tend to cancel each other out. More restrictive societies, attempt to maintain a monopoly on information, and thus generally propagate ‘official’ views. Anyone that expresses a perpective different from the official narrative immediately arouses interest.

Yet speaking freely is practiced with a degree of restraint even in the freer societies, especially by persons in official positions. Every government has its “party line” and its members are expected to adhere to it.

Independence of the Media

How independent is the mass media? How well do privately owned  instruments of mass communication serve the public interest? The ability of the mass media to report news of interest, and do it fairly, is limited to an extent by the fact that it is controlled by interested parties, public or private. May a privately controlled vehicle of mass communication be expected to serve the public interest? The instruments of mass communication are for this reason not entirely reliable providers of information. Which newspaper will print stories that may prove damaging to the interests of its shareholders? Which television network will run stories that may prove damaging to its clients, on whom the network depends for its biggest source of income, advertising revenue?