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Eddy Smith.
Eddy Smith.

By Eddy Smith

At a lively bus terminal, a typical scene unfolds: A group of young men, engaged in animated discussion, their laughter ringing out amidst the everyday hustle and bustle of the city. Suddenly, a minivan swerves by, its windows rolled down. A familiar face emerges, a young man, his eyes sparkling with mischief mingled with playful rapport. He playfully jeers “Dotish man!”, a slang thrown affectionately yet sharply at a member of the group. The air crackles with a strange blend of jest and tension. The group erupts in approval; one retorts with a rude expletive, his voice carrying a mix of humour and underlying aggression. To an onlooker, this interaction might seem confusingly friendly, yet there’s an unmistakable undercurrent of derogation. It’s like a special way of speaking where they mix teasing and respect, a common spectacle among our youth.

This scene, though it appears harmless, reveals a deeper story about how we communicate in our society. It shows a contradiction: words that are often belittling at their core, are cloaked in the guise of friendship and acceptance.

It then becomes crucial, even life-changing, to nurture positive communication among young people, especially our boys. This can shape their future in powerful ways.

This principle, deeply rooted in the teachings of wise figures like King Solomon, highlights the profound impact of our words. Solomon’s insight remains timeless: “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” From Confucius, we draw an equally powerful message: “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” In our society, where harsh or demeaning language is often casually exchanged under the guise of camaraderie, we starkly deviate from these ancient pearls of wisdom. Such communication styles, though glamorised in popular culture, subtly erode the integrity and self-worth of individuals. This sharply contrasts with the ideals of constructive and uplifting dialogue that these legendary thinkers advocated, demonstrating a deep disconnect from the venerable path of wisdom.

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Recognizing this disconnect, I propose a path that honours the wisdom of the past while addressing the unique challenges of the present. By re-igniting the practice of respectful and positive dialogue, we can transform the prevailing narrative, nurturing healthier and more empathetic ways of communication.

This approach is particularly important when considering the psychological impact of communication styles on young men. Developmental psychology highlights that during adolescence and early adulthood, individuals are deeply influenced by their interactions with peers and the prevailing societal norms. The language adopted in these circles does more than just shape social identity; it also profoundly affects self-perception. Simply put, if you keep talking negatively, even as a joke, it can really start to drag your own thoughts down. It’s like planting seeds of negativity in your mind that can grow into something bigger and harmful.

The potential damage to self-esteem from negative communication can lead to serious mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Conversely, promoting a culture of positive, uplifting communication can nurture a healthier self-image and emotional resilience. This is particularly vital considering the vulnerability of young men to societal and peer pressures during their formative years. Changing the nature of their dialogue is not just beneficial but vital.

It’s super important to understand that the way young men speak to each other, especially about being ‘manly,’ really sticks with them. These habits are deeply set in our culture and can seriously affect how they think and act.

Traditional views of masculinity often stress toughness and emotional restraint, which can inadvertently encourage aggressive or demeaning communication as a misguided display of strength. However, there’s a growing movement to redefine masculinity to encompass emotional intelligence and empathy, crucial for constructive and supportive interactions.

By encouraging our young men to communicate in a manner that is open and respectful, we can foster stronger, more genuine relationships. This shift not only helps to dismantle harmful stereotypes but also celebrates diversity and individuality, paving the way for a more inclusive and empathetic society. This cultural transformation aligns with the enduring wisdom that recognises the profound impact of uplifting words.

To the young men who stand at the forefront of shaping tomorrow’s society: the power of your words extends far beyond the fleeting moments of everyday banter. Each word you choose carries the potential to uplift or to diminish, not just the listener, but also the speaker. I invite you to consider a transformative approach in your daily interactions – a conscious shift from casual, often derogatory language to words that empower and inspire.

Imagine this: the next time you find yourself on the verge of addressing a friend with a term like “Me Dog,” pause for a moment. In that pause lies the opportunity for change. Instead, try “King” or “Champ.” These are not just words; they are affirmations of respect and admiration. When tempted to jest with phrases like “Dotish man,” why not opt for “Einstein” instead? It’s a playful nod to their intelligence, a subtle encouragement that can boost their confidence and self-worth.

This change in language is a profound shift, not just politeness. You would be shaping a world where everyone feels deeply respected and valued – a powerful, resonant transformation in our daily interactions. Think of it as sowing seeds of positivity that can grow into stronger bonds of friendship and understanding. By choosing words that acknowledge the strengths and potentials of your peers, you contribute to their personal growth. And in doing so, you grow as well.

The goal here is not to impose a rigid standard of speech but to inspire a more mindful and heartening way of interacting with each other. It’s about recognizing that the words we use in jest or affection have weight. They can shape perceptions, influence moods, and ultimately, impact the trajectory of lives.

Remember, the way you encourage and lift up those around you matters, especially your closest friends. Your words aren’t just sounds; they have the power to shape realities. Use them to spark change, to ignite belief, and to empower dreams. In a world shadowed by negativity, your voice can shine as a beacon of hope and forward movement. Embrace this noble way of speaking, and you don’t just better your own conversations; you set a benchmark for others. This is what real leadership looks like. It’s how Kings speak to each other.

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

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