I just finished reading a Facebook thread trying to figure out the identity of someone I thought I knew. I accidentally stumbled across some public ugliness. Note: I in fact did not know any of these people involved, and felt bad that I had then been privy to the conversation.
The truth is, I’m seeing this kind of thing more often, and as Facebook evolves and changes what it shows the public regardless of privacy settings, I see more and more potential danger lurking around every corner with words.
One of my greatest fears about blogging and writing Facebook posts is unintentionally offending someone. I might think I’ve thought through something from every angle, but out of my own ignorance I miss the mark. It’s happened.
There is great danger in sitting behind a screen tap-tap-tapping out words, especially angry ones. I know from my own experience there are words I would be more likely to write than to ever speak to someone’s face. I’ll readily admit I’ve been a coward in the past. Because I don’t like confrontation, I’ve used email to try to resolve my relational problems. Bad idea. My toes curl just thinking about my own mistakes in this area.
When we try to resolve issues or simply vent using the written word a lot can be lost. Tone. Sincerity. Caution. Common sense. And more.
Trust me, I don’t have this all figured out, but if you have an issue to discuss with someone about what should truly be a private matter, pick up the phone or arrange a meeting. I’ve seen many a friend hurt because written words have then been printed out and passed around for others to see.
We especially need to educate our children on this matter. When I was teaching instant messaging had just become popular and I had one student devastated at school by words she had typed feeling safe behind the screen. Kids have no idea how far and wide their words (and pictures) can travel.
Remember, if you would hesitate to say it face to face, or you wouldn’t want someone blasting you on Facebook like you are about to blast someone else, then for the love, don’t do it. At the very least send a private message, but your best bet is to opt for the phone.
This is your public service announcement for today. I’m done with my cautionary words. Let’s hope I take my own advice!
Picture from freeimages.com.