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Artist brilliantly illustrates the power of words in a cute, yet thought-provoking comic

tim ulit

"Words Have More Power Than We Thought" by Tum Ulit.

As the saying goes, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Science has proven, on multiple fronts, that this is not the case. And psychology aside, our hearts know just how much leverage both an insult and a compliment can carry. Just think of how your body reacts when remembering the very best thing anyone has ever said about you … and the worst.

Though that saying might be less than accurate, the phrase “a picture’s worth a thousand words” certainly still holds up, especially when it comes to the work of Thai artist Tum Ulit.

Ulit’s comics have captured hearts on Instagram, for both their sweet illustrative style and their powerful, sometimes heavy messages.

His latest strip delivers a thought-provoking and intimate look depicting just how much what we say, for good or for ill, matters.


When used in anger, our words become weapons.

As seen (quite literally) with a couple arguing, insults become swords. Accusations become axes. Instead of practicing nonviolent communication, which focuses on authentically expressing emotions without insults, judgment, or put-downs, the couple use their words to further drive an emotional wedge between them.

non violent communication

All images from "Words Have More Power Than We Thought" by Tim Ulit.

All images via Facebook

power of words
power of words
power of words
power of words comic
power of words comic

And perhaps worst of all, though the husband and wife are intending to attack each other, their son, who hears it all, becomes caught in the crossfire of their unkempt rage.

There’s a reason why words of affirmation are part of the five love languages. As seen here, with the affectionate father visibly praising his son’s monster creation.

power of words comic
power of words comic
bullying
encouragement
self esteem

Having this kind of emotional fortitude later helps the son’s confidence become impenetrable, even when schoolmates (and the teacher) make fun of his monster. Which is, of course, totally inappropriate, but also inaccurate, because that little monster is so cute!

Words wound us. But wounds can heal with kindness.

When the kids meet, the son from the previous vignette, who saw his parents fighting, is still carrying the burden of hurtful words.

tim ulit
tim ulit comics

Clearly not from only his parents fight, but from bullying as well.

tim ulit comics
tim ulit comics

Yet with the help of his new friend, he learns that those thoughts don’t have to be carried.

tim ulit comics
tim ulit comics
tim ulit comics

The comic cuts to 15 years later, where the monster-creating kid is now a debuting artist, who comes face to face with one of his idols. In an esteem-crushing blow, the idol criticizes the artist’s work (a pain worse than death for most creatives).

power of words comic
power of words comic
power of words comic
power of words comic
power of words comic
power of words comic
non violent communication
non violent communication

The harsh judgment blasts like a torpedo straight to the artist’s heart, completely trapping him in his own disappointment.

non violent communication
non violent communication
kind words
kind words
kind words

That is, until his friend comes in to return the favor, and save the day with kindness. This time, encouragement acts like a key, rather than a shield, but still just as effective.

kind words
kind words
kind words
kind words
kind words
non violent communication
non violent communication
non violent communication

Words can lift us up or knock us down in one breath. Having distance through technology doesn’t change that, ask anyone who's been trolled or cyberbullied. It’s easier now more than ever to be unkind without consequences online, but let’s remember that what we say does matter. The choice to be kind is always there. And if there is so much power contained in the words we use, let’s make that power a force for good.

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Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

Suzy Hazelwood/Canva

Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.

Image from YouTube video.

What is your biggest regret?

"Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh."

—Henry David Thoreau

No one escapes this world without a regret or two.

Time and time again, when we hear the final regrets of the dying, they're not about wishing they'd made money or worked more hours.

They're almost always about wishing they had the self-confidence to pursue their dreams or the time to stay in touch with loved ones.

community, culture, honesty, collaboration, art

Here are some thoughts on the subject.

Image from YouTube video.

Recently, A Plus in partnership with Strayer University's Ideal Year Initiative, put up a chalkboard on a New York City street and asked passersby to write down their biggest regrets. The people who wrote on the blackboard were from different walks of life, but their regrets were alarmingly similar.

Watch the full video below:

This article first appeared on 9.16.17

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We are NOT prepared for Salt-n-Pepa to replace Michael McDonald in the waiting room at the doctor's office, thankyouverymuch.

Gen X is eating dinner earlier and earlier. It's happening.

The thing about Gen X being in our 40s and 50s now is that we were never supposed to get "old." Like, we're the cool, aloof grunge generation of young tech geniuses. Most of the giants that everyone uses every day—Google, Amazon, YouTube—came from Gen X. Our generation is both "Friends" and "The Office." We are, like, relevant, dammit.

And also, our backs hurt, we need reading glasses, our kids are in college and how in the name of Jennifer Aniston's skincare regimen did we get here?

It's weird to reach the stage when there's no doubt that you aren't young anymore. Not that Gen X is old—50 is the new 30, you know—but we're definitely not young. And it seems like every day there's something new that comes along to shove that fact right in our faces. When did hair start growing out of that spot? Why do I suddenly hate driving at night? Why is this restaurant so loud? Does that skin on my arm look…crepey?

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It's a huge benefit for a child's development as well. According to Parent.com, reading "stimulates the side of the brain that helps with mental imagery, understanding, and language processing, and that brain activity."

Sure beats wasting time playing video games.


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