With January still box fresh, I feel the need to apologise. I’m not usually one to be found ‘soap-boxing’ at social gatherings but, I admit, there were a few occasions through December when I did just that.
Why? Because 2017 was a year where words took a battering. It’s true, language has always been used to side-step, belittle and provoke, but last year the value of the written word was truly tainted. Of course, there are the obvious offenders (the US President included). But also, newspaper headlines, flippant social media debate and ‘would-be’ journalists who have (sometimes unwittingly) used language to alarm and cause division.
For a copywriter like me, who has a professional investment in the power of words, it’s impossible not to feel enraged. And so, as we begin 2018 I apologise for my Christmas party season soap-boxing. But, not for my resolution to do all I can to reverse this corrosion of the things we read.
Since the first publication of The Gutenberg Bible in 1455, great copywriting has been gently encouraging people to make rewarding and inspiring choices. The credulous amongst you would counter-argue that a copywriter’s role is simply to employ words to sell ‘stuff’. I can’t deny this completely, my professional existence is secured by my ability to persuade, and drive action (A.K.A encourage the spending of money).
Now, I’m not (today anyway) daft enough to think I can pitch copywriting as a vehicle for universal altruism. But, I’m entirely confident that 2018 can, and should, be a year when copywriters, and the businesses they work with, re-build trust in words.
Afterall, even in the era of the emoji, words are still the most powerful force available to humanity.