“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”
Some version of reflection on the power of words has been coming up frequently in various networks lately, including the power of the right phrase, the right question, or the right story to become an attractor that galvanizes collective action. This seems a critical function in networks, tapping memetic resonance. What have you seen in net work that helps unleash the lightning?
Words and the way in which we order and convey them can have tremendous power. This has been driven home by a variety of experiences and stories. There was the environmental conservation effort that was having a hard time bringing certain stakeholders under its umbrella until it began offering others the opportunity to join a movement to “preserve quality of place.” Then there was the effort to intervene on the behalf of some of our depleted fisheries that began with a slogan more or less about about “saving fish,” and that only ended up bringing key players into the fold when it shifted to being about “ensuring that we can fish forever.” Engagement is a science and an art form and the importance of our word choices is not to be underestimated.
What experiences have you had with the power of words in the pursuit of social change?