Have you felt like screaming immediately after you have hit that SEND button? Or better still, after a few glasses of wine (oh gawd we would never admit that one), tweeted something so stupid, awful and irrevocably damaging that we only wish the ground could swallow us up.
How about that email you sent to a really, really close friend at work. You are exhausted from spending three weeks working on (what you believe is) a presentation that you have elevated to the position of godliness. Your boss grabs the divine presentation folder in his (or maybe hers?) greasy hands, folds its pristine leaves into a tube and without so much as a glance, walks off. Worse, after the client presentation, he or she takes credit for the whole bloody thing. Your department wins the contract, and what do you get for it? Not even a thanks.
So you spill your guts to your best friend about your boss, your department, the stinky admin who despises you, and finally your company in an email that makes you feel slightly better. I mean, didn’t your counselor tell you to write your feelings down and then let them go, or burn them, or bury them. Something like that anywho.
That feeling of relief doesn’t last long. The creepy heat starts with the ears and spreads across the back of the head and neck. It then spreads across your cheeks, your mouth dries up and you heart starts to palpitate. All of these things are normal reactions of flight. However, in this 21st century, the enemy is the Internet. Did you send it to him or her or was that a SEND ALL you just saw, as the document’s little round revolving image tells you it is distributing itself across the Internet faster than a speeding bullet.
On one occasion one young and totally stressed out techie was going through a horrendous divorce. Unfortunately, the letter he thought he sent to his soon-to-be ex-wife landed up in our bosses email box. And the email which was supposed to reach our boss thanking him for his substantial pay raise which was to be deposited in a different bank account, reached his soon-to-be ex-wife. Scattered throughout the ex-wife letter were words no one would want to read, and in particular ones boss.
- In the movies, theater, ballet, opera, et al
- Attending class
- During an exam
- During a presentation
- At a funeral (weddings OK, in fact encouraged)
- During a storm on the high seas
- While getting divorced
- Driving a car
- Driving a four-in-hand
- Riding a bike, boat, snowmobile
- Making love
- Riding an escalator (auto-correction)
- Riding an elevator (auto-correction)
- Riding a roller-coaster
- Taking off in a plane
- Landing in or on a plane
- Flying a plane (auto pilot OK)
- Dancing or any other giration
- Drinking excessively
- Getting high, baked, ripped, stone or blazed
- When angry
At the time I thought the whole thing was really funny until I did something similar. Not quite as bad, but sending an email out to a large distribution list which was probably a split shopping list for my spouse. Silly stuff. But that same, awful sick feeling still hit me.
What’s the worse case scenario?
People no longer regard you as anything but a nutcase This truly breaks your heart because since the inception of the Internet blog, in particular Facebook, you have become ridiculously narcissistic and think that everyone hangs off every word you post. Your deceit crumbles like confetti. Your wife/husband now has a good reason to divorce you Think beggary; think destitution. Your competitor now has a good reason to sue you Think libel, followed swiftly by beggary and destitution. You lose your job Oh absolutely. Think ‘All of the Above.’
It’s a Stress Filled World We Live In
It certainly is and for most of us, under many conditions, we sometimes forget to leave things aside before that post. We should all definitely get into the habit of patience. Take me, and auto-correct. I was late sending out Christmas Cards a few years ago. Along with some of the cards went a Christmas letter. In the letter I discussed various members of the family. My half-brother and half-sister were mentioned in very favorable terms. However, in mentioning their last name I had not noticed that ‘Word’ had auto-corrected it to ‘scrotum.’ The rest is history.
Hot Off The Press
Today, all over the Internet, is a story about one sad, sad PayPal executive who unfortunately ranted on a tweet which he says he thought was private but turned out to be very, very public. I read the article in The London Telegraph because it’s, well, The London Telegraph. Considering he was an executive and considering the tweets were full of strange typos and cryptic letters, one does wonder. Was he on vacation? Apparently. Was he drunk? Who knows. He claims he was not only on vacation, but had been working 20 hours a day and was testing a new android phone. All very valid excuses but honestly, the majority of people really did not want to believe him. I feel sorry for him actually. So don’t laugh. Remember…..What Goes Around, Comes Around. You just never know when it could be you and for sure The Fate Gods are definitely lurking in their hundreds of thousands around the Internet.
What’s The Best Way To Handle this Situation If It Was You?
I’m no saint but I was right on target just yesterday. I have to attend a meeting in the next couple of days. It’s going to be a difficult meeting because the person I am meeting has been a big let down. I heard complaints from lots of other people about this one person but ignored it, didn’t take it seriously until exactly the same thing happened to me. I was ready to send off a very hot email to them, but instead chose to send the draft to two others who were also attending the meeting. Both of them said immediately, “Don’t send it!” They both pointed out it was going to put our rep on the spot and they may get defensive or even hostile. Their recommendation was to go meet with them instead and talk it through.
What sound advice. Shakespeare, the old love, said The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword. So it is! Talking things through is so much better. You can temper words with soft tones, you can nod in agreement, find common ground together, and it’s immediate. Or not if it is so hopeless. But an angry email rarely gets you anywhere. Or you could…..
- Hire Stephen Colbert’s scriptwriter to write you an hysterically funny excuse. Laughter and comedy actually make people like you more.
- Blame it on the kids. They lifted your phone, which you left on, and blogged on your behalf. If you don’t have any kids try No. 3.
- Tell everyone your cellphone was stolen. The rascal thief blogged it, you would never have said such stuff.
- Cast fate to the wind and reiterate exactly what you posted because you hate your spouse, job, boss, department, and are exhausted with your competitors.
Unfortunately anything you post on the Internet is forever but over time will obfuscate and remain buried amongst a million other futile blog mishaps. You won’t forget but like a bad meal eventually you will be able to digest it and jettison the memory into the wide gray waters of the World Wide Web.