Words Speak Louder Than Actions – Reaction to Ong

After reading the Ong piece, “The Technologizing of the World,” I was stuck pondering how people ever remembered anything before the written word. Before writing, after an event or interaction happened, if no one remembered the instance, did it really happen? There were oral records, but this required individuals to remember certain instances. Since it is clearly not possible to remember every moment of every day, how did one choose what was deemed important to remember? Personally, there are times when I cannot even remember what I ate for dinner the night before; let alone remember an entire lecture from a professor. It was a hard, almost abstract concept for me to grasp.

I had never thought of writing as a technology because it is second nature to me. Since I was a child, writing was internalized into my life. Whether I was doodling letters that I had just learned in kindergarten or stringing a few sentences together to tell a “story” about a picture I drew, I was writing. Most people know the cliche, “actions speak louder than words,” but when it comes to remembering something, to making something that happened in the past a permanent fixture of all futures, words actually speak louder than actions.

For example: A famous public figure, let’s say, a president, gives a speech to the citizens of his country, the things that he says and the gestures he shows affect the people who are there listening to him speak; They hear his words, they react to his opinions and thoughts, they form their own opinions and thoughts. But, what happens after this said president dies? What happens to his spoken words? Without written word, no one can hear those words of the past now. The citizens present at his speech has have taken away an idea or two or even three, but what if they did not understand the context of what he was actually trying to say? They have nothing to reference now, but their own memories or the memories of others.

Click picture to read an interesting article about memory

You could argue that the impact the words live on, but there are no words for further analysis. There is no way to remember life at that exact moment. The written word allows us to place ourselves at a different point in time and form evidence-based views and opinions on the context of the words. It is natural that humans will all eventually die, but with the technology of the written words, our thoughts, beliefs and opinions can possibly live forever.

Leave a Reply