Inspiring Facebook Statuses - The Power Of Words, A Lesson For Writers
Quite recently a friend of mine shared the video below in her Facebook status.
I brought it here for your attention as in opinion of many people it’s something very special and affected them deeply. Many shared it with their friends on Facebook and I would like to share my observations about what makes it so special.
When I have finished watching it for the first time, my eyes were full of tears. I was deeply touched and it was overwhelming emotion. After a moment I have realised that there is more to this video and that there are several layers of information being passed on us who watched it.
You might be less emotional than I am, but I suspect it still created a strong emotional reaction in you as it did for me. All people, I had a chance to talk to about this video, were deeply moved. This reaction comes from your perception of the world.
At the point you see the words on the second board, you immediately create a mental image in your head. It’s the image of you not being able to see the beauty of the world. It’s about something you have now and are afraid of losing. Suddenly you realise that this man lost what we all take for granted.
The power of words
Another layer here is about using the right words. This emotional reaction wasn’t triggered by the first statement “I’m blind”. However, the second one did change your perception dramatically. The meaning was the same so what was special in the words used?
The key is the fact we are not able to relate to the first phrase. Being blind doesn’t mean much to you or me as we don’t know what is like – we never been in such a situation. The second sentence connects both worlds. Shows us what is missing from this man’s life that we have.
It automatically triggers our mind to imagine how it would be for us if we lost ability to see. It gives us the ideas about what would be missing from our world and that creates this feeling of sadness and big lost. We suddenly can sympathise with this man as we can relate to his struggle.
It shows quite clearly, how important are the words you use to describe things and how much it can change the perception of the message recipient.
A lesson for writers
This video shows us, how important are the words, we are using. You probably heard more than once that a picture is worth a thousand words and it's usually true. However, as you could just see, a few simple words may have much bigger impact than thousands and in fact they are probably more powerful than many photographs.
Their power lies in the ability to create mental pictures in your imagination. Those pictures or movies have you as the main character, so they are much more personal than any photo. This is very important message for all writers that the words you choose really matter.
The third layer of information we can discover is the fact that this video is actually an advert of the company offering web content writing service. They show you what they can do and how they can change the perception of their audience with their skills in using words and media. You know they did the great job as you felt the emotions yourself. It’s the ideal scenario from marketing point of view – they don’t need to boast about their capabilities, they simply give you a powerful sample of their abilities.
Sceptical point of view
Some of you might be thinking that actually words alone wouldn’t be enough to create this effect from the video. You may think that it needs all them together – a video, music, images and the build up of the story – to create such a powerful result. You may argue that all other elements are necessary to put us in a certain mind set and to prepare us for the big final.
So you may say that the words are just the trigger for the emotions that were already building up in us. You may think that if the whole story was only written using words and not seen in a form of video, it wouldn’t have such a big impact. Yes, it’s possible, but until somebody will try to prove it otherwise, we can’t really be certain if the words or other elements are a key to the emotions.
Book versus movie
We can though look at different situations and examples to give words their justice. The example I want to bring is comparing two activities - reading a book and watching the movie. Have you ever read a book and then watched the movie based of which script was based on this book, in that exact order?
Maybe you are Tolkien fan and you know "The Lord of The Rings" books inside out? I’m sure you couldn’t wait to see it on the big screen. Have you been impressed or rather disappointed? In many cases people are really disappointed with the movie, be it Tolkien story or other – it’s just not what they have expected.
When you read a book, especially a fiction, you create entire world in your mind. You can imagine all characters and interactions between them. You can see environment in which they live, what they do and how they speak or behave, all entirely in your head. This creation is very vivid and full of life, but what’s most important what you see in your imagination is unique to you.
Then you watch the movie and all seems to be wrong. Characters don’t look how you imagined them and they don’t say what they said in your world. All seems to be missing important bits and lacks dimensions. Basically your reaction based on book was much more detailed and you developed personal connection with one or more characters.
Interestingly enough, if you watch the movie first, you don’t have the same problem. Reading a book after simply adds some more details but doesn’t change your perception of characters and story line. They are already set in your mind the way the movie director wanted and you believe they match what’s in the book.
It basically shows us how powerful is our imagination in creating very lively and engaging pictures.
A final note on perception
There is one more thing that you may find useful when writing for your readers. It’s about understanding their view of the world. Have you noticed in the video how this man recognised the woman who wrote the sentence? He touched her shoes. He was able to recognise her based on a shape and texture of her shoes. Probably there was also the sound she was making while walking and maybe her perfumes.
Would you be able to recognise a person you barely met once using your touch and hearing senses only? I don’t think so and frankly you probably don’t feel like it’s a big deal. You don’t need this ability so you don’t miss it. You can see the person with your own eyes so touch and smell seems to be irrelevant in this situation.
It could be similar to this man, especially if he was born blind. He has the other senses developed to such a degree that the sight seems to be unnecessary. It might be that he actually doesn’t need it and if he never was able to see with his eyes, he doesn’t even know what he is missing.
Know your readers view of the world
In his world sight is not important but you reacted like it was crucial for him as it is for you. Your perception of the situation was driven by your personal experience and your view of the world. It’s a very important point for all writers. When you address your readers, give them the story they can relate to. Write in such a way it would fit in with their view of the world otherwise they simply won’t understand your point of view and the story will not be engaging for them.
You may ask how to get to know your readers world. The answer is simple – read. Read anything written by members of your target audience and talk to them if possible. Find out about their concerns and worries. Then you will know the way they think.
There is also other option, write for like minded people, so those who share your view of the world. The when you write stories you can easily test them out on yourself. If you find them interesting and engaging, the chances are your readers will do as well.