How many words are there on the Internet? Using a ratio of 300 words to each of the estimated 100 billion pages on the Internet will yield approximately 30 trillion words. That is 30 followed by 12 zeroes. The sheer volume of information and opinion “out there” is staggering. Overwhelming. We are drowning in an ocean of words.

There is a great struggle to be individually heard and understood surrounded by all these words. Especially in isolation there is strong desire to be right and to convince others to join us in our beliefs. Faceless authors are offering an abundance of “proof,” pushing out a news article or YouTube video to be the final word on any topic. We magnify, exaggerate, distort, and bully to make our point completely clear.

So, how well is that working for us?

I suggest there is too little personal reflection, too little humility, and too little civility in our pursuit. It is too easy to grab a headline that proves we are right and dismiss disagreement as foolishness. In the process we have forgotten how to speak our hearts. We have lost the ability to reflect on our beliefs. Our own honest words are missing from the trillions.

So here are other questions, ones I believe are critically important.

How many words a day do we use in order to live in community? Do those words satisfy our need to be understood? Do they faithfully express our thoughts?

To whom are we speaking? How many take the time to really listen? Do we record our thoughts?

This troubling season could be the perfect time to refine and capture our ideals – a rare opportunity to put our truths and desires into our own words. The intended audience for these words is not an anonymous Internet world, but ourselves. The time invested to explore ideas, choose words, and form sentences will yield an autobiography. Those personal words will reveal a self portrait, and the content of those musings will reflect back to us the person we offer the world.

Take time today to say, “I believe…” and follow with one word. One idea. One value. Ponder that belief and weigh its worthiness to be your voice in the world.

Make sure your words represent the real you.

Dan Jean

Dan Jean, a regular contributor to the YouthCUE website and monthly newsletter, lives in Lynden Washington with his wife, Carlene.