There are some words that you think, the person saying or writing them, has an inkling might just reverberate around the world and be remembered, for good or ill. Think Chamberlain waving a piece of paper in 1938 declaring that we would not go to war with Germany; Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I have a dream’ speech in 1963; Emmeline Pankhurst’s 1913 ‘Freedom or Death’ speech and numerous TED talks, Queen’s speeches and even film award acceptances. I did say, for good or ill.

But what of us on a less lofty platform and our words? We stayed with my utterly wonderful friend, Alex and her also lovely hubby and son over the festive period. We joined them at a party thrown by one of their friend’s, who was hostess with the mostess. My glass was charged with chilled bubbles whilst my children played happily and stuffed themselves with party food. She then told me that she had read my column from this very newspaper and enjoyed it. We were in Cambridgeshire and so this revelation of regular reading surprised me. I momentarily mislaid from my mind the whole internet thing, remembering the days of dial up, I still sometimes forget how completely drenched we all are in the Web.

It got me thinking about the power that we all now have to share our views far and wide and how with this great power, should come great responsibility. Sticks and stones may be the things that hurt our bones but we all know that words can still hurt us. Many of us will still remember the nasty comment from the spiteful kid at school; a cruel parting shot from an estranged and once-loved partner; the unpleasant, grumpy person who took their bad day out on us for no other reason that we were there.

It feels in the current climate that division gnashes its’ teeth and tears through not just our politics but sometimes through our families and communities. Social media and messaging means we can fire off at will verbal bullets to whomever we choose, sometimes simply because we are feeling lonely, disgruntled, confused or angry. Is it not now more important than ever that as parents we teach our children about respect and civility; kindness; empathy; using messaging and social media thoughtfully and mindful of who could be hurt and about how to engage in healthy not destructive debate and discussion? Is it not equally essential that we take a moment to apply all of the same to our own speech and correspondence? We can reach out to people far and wide and spread ideas, thoughts, opinions and we can debate in a way that is unprecedented. You never know how far your words will spread, to whom and how and that is potentially hugely positive. But, it is worth asking yourself, do you want to be remembered for sharing a message that furthers humankind in some way or one that sees you in a verbal gutter?