The Riddle That Seems Impossible Even If You Know The Answer
The Riddle That Seems Impossible Even If You Know The Answer

We hurt without moving. We poison without touching. We bear the truth and the lies. We are not to be judged by our size. What are we?

How does one become a knight? To be crowned a knight requires swearing an oath, kneeling before your king and waiting for a gentle tap from a sword.

Swords are also used to slay your enemies. A skillful swordsman can penetrate the thickest of armors with one precise thrust. Words are like that too. They can empower and they can destroy. They can be used for good and they can be used for evil.

Today we launched a campaign called Empatia Nettiin (Empathy Online). The campaign came to be with the co-operation of several companies and associations, but it isn’t about organizations. It is about words.

Approximately one year ago I was devastated. A train wreck of a human-being. I had just become unemployed. I was living with my parents. I was in a deep well hopelessly searching for a way to climb up.

Being slightly drunk from a night of self-pity, anger and hatred, stubbornly fighting an urge to simply give up, I called out. I promised a month’s worth of salary for anyone offering me a job. My outcry went viral on Twitter.

A friend of mine, a journalist by trade and a caring person by heart wanted others to hear my story of the most unlikely set of consequences that had left me with not much but my ability to tell stories.

I ended up sitting down with a journalist. It was in the middle of a most strikingly beautiful summer day with birds chittering excitedly and happy people enjoying each others company.

“What has happened to you?”, the journalist asked.

I wanted to lash out. I wanted to finally say fuck you to everyone and no-one in particular. This was to be my moment of retribution.

But I bit my tongue.

Like in the old movies where the antagonist sees his whole life flash before his eyes in the moment of death, I saw the chain of events that had led me to that particular moment.

Instead of lashing out, I told a story about poor choices and bad luck. It resonated.

Overnight my story reached hundreds of thousands Finns. Another story was published.

Being overly curious by nature I wanted to see what others had written about me.

“What if Jaakko is a shitty employee?”

“What if he is such a dick that no-one wants to work with him?”

“What on earth is a 30+ year-old doing living with his parents?”

“WHAT A FUCKING LOSER!1!”

Now picture yourself sitting in the same room you used to sit as a teenager, after enduring an endless stroke of bad luck, already feeling bad about yourself and second-guessing your whole existence.

How would you feel?

Now remember, words can also be used to empower.

For every rant there were several positive statements. Random people saying how it took some balls to publicly admit to being a basement dweller. Friends of friends sending private messages. Busy people pausing and taking their time to write lengthy messages saying how my story moved them and begging me not to give up.

Why does Empatia Nettiin campaign matter?

Because words matter. Because you never know what your words might mean. Because my decision not to lash out but to use my words carefully saved me. I am now in a very different place than where I was a year ago. But I have not forgotten.

I will humbly take a knee and swear never to use my words to destroy. I kindly ask you to do the same.

What are we?

We are words.

#empatianettiin

#empatiapakkaus

#empathy

#microsoft

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