If you’ve been following the News this week, you’d know that there’s a trial going on between two famous actors: Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Each one is trying to sue the other for millions of dollars. Now, I don’t usually get into drama/political debates, but, honestly, I can relate to this case. My relation may not be on such a grand scale that it involves lawsuits and long trials, but its essentially the same issue.
This trial is happening because of an opinion piece Amber Heard made in the 2018 Washington Post. She described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” She gave no names. Didn’t associate a single person to her writing, however, given she divorced Johnny Depp in 2016, people saw Johnny as the abuser in her article. It ruined his career and any hope that fans had of seeing him as Captain Jack Sparrow again. Now, I don’t know who’s lying or who’s telling the truth in the Johnny Depp trial, but I know one thing: Amber Heard knew her writing would impact Johnny Depp even though she left his name off it. Why do I know this? Because, I did the exact same thing.
My writing isn’t making the grand scale drama like the Johnny Depp trial, but the situation is the same. About a month ago, I posted a poem on this website called Let Me Go. I wrote it out of hurt. You see, I was having a hard time at the place where I worked. Straight to the point where I was miserable. A coworker that I thought I was close friends with started cutting me off and treating me like I didn’t exist. They did this all because of a possibility of another lead position opening up on my team and when the lead position did open up, things got worse. Gossip started behind closed doors. The team was starting to take sides: hers or mine. It no longer felt like a workplace, but a battleground where if you didn’t watch what you did, you would get reprimanded for it and fired. I felt that my coworker was blinded by ambition and pushing out everyone that stood in their way. I was angry at myself for not being able to fix the relationship we once had. For being too reserved and unable to speak my mind. I started believing that I was the problem even though I felt I did nothing wrong. I realized I was no longer wanted. No one would listen to my side of the story. I still cared for this coworker and I knew she would be a great lead for the team, but it hurt the way she treated me. All that led to me writing Let Me Go. At the time, I didn’t see the harm of posting that poem. I only got about 10 views on my site a week anyway and considering there’s at least five of my family members who follow my posts, I didn’t think anyone else would see it.
Boy, was I wrong.
My website got over 100 views that week all because of that poem. One of my coworkers read it and they spread it to the rest of my workplace. I kept telling myself I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m not the one who tagged my ambitious coworker to that poem and I had a right to freedom of speech. I’m a writer. I struggle to verbally communicate so writing is how I cope best. Yet, I knew who I was writing about when I wrote that poem. I may not have named them, but it was all about them. I don’t know what their reaction was to it, because we never spoke. Like I said: she treated me like I didn’t exist and that was way before the poem was posted.
My point is that deep down, I knew there would be backlash. I knew that if she ever saw that poem then it would hurt her and it was wrong of me to call her out like that. Words cut deeper than the flesh and I know mine probably did some damage. I didn’t put her name on the poem, but it still made her the target.
This is how I know that Amber Heard knew her op-ed in the Washington Post would affect Johnny Depp. Every writer knows there’s power in words. They’re one of the best weapons out there. They can tear someone down enough to make them contemplate suicide or build them up to make them feel on top of the world. You have to be careful with them and think long and hard on how you use them. Amber’s words hurt Johnny Depp whether the allegations are true or not. She could’ve done it out of sheer, dramatic spite, or she could’ve done it because it was the honest to God truth. I sympathize with Johnny Depp because I think about the target of the my poem. Even though everything I said in it felt like truth to me. Even though I have a right to post my freedom of speech on my website, it couldn’t have felt good to be on the receiving end of that poem and knowing all your coworkers are seeing it to. Johnny Depp’s and Amber Heard’s trial is going to last a long time and affect so many people. All because of a page long op-ed in the Washington Post.
Regardless of who you believe, I hope this article makes you consider how you use your words today and every day after. Whether its in response to trivial drama at work or on a grander scale like the Johnny Depp trial. The tongue and the pen have the power of life and death. Use them carefully.