You laugh when you see the headline, but we are all only human (except for the bots and the spammers, that is) and, as such, we have spats, break up and, sometimes, we even get divorced. We not only get divorced from significant others, but sometimes we even get divorced from friends, co-workers, business partners or clients.
That was a big enough deal before the advent of the online world but now that so many of us live our lives online, it’s important to think about how we behave when we have a falling out with someone else or even, ultimately, get divorced.
Words last. Spoken words are long remembered, but written ones have an even longer life span. And on the Internet, words last forever.
I think it was the brouhaha involving @alohaarleen that made me realize how horribly damaging words could be, especially when circulating throughout the Twitterverse. I don’t know what exactly happened between Arleen and her ex-husband and, honestly, I don’t really care. I have enough on my own plate on a day-to-day basis that I have neither the time nor the inclination to be concerned about the alleged misdeeds of others. But, I do remember feeling shocked by the malevolence that was evident during that time period and can’t imagine how it must have felt to be the recipient of that.
My point is simple. Relationships happen. Relationships break up. That’s life. And we are all grown-ups. So we should act like grown-ups. And remember that the online world in which many of us choose to spend our professional and, often some of our personal time as well, is unforgiving. We should never forget to be very prudent, and careful about what we say, because what we say online is actually published. Written. Lasting. Permanent. Searchable. And with the potential to be very damaging, both to ourselves and to others.
You might read this and be thinking “Duh, that’s so simple, why would anyone ever need to write about it?” Well, I challenge you to stop and think – just for a minute. Have you ever said something to someone that you ultimately wished you would just reach out and grab back? Have you ever hit “send” on an email or a text and instantly regretted it, because it was something said in the heat of the moment that might, ultimately, damage a relationship forever? I know I have – on more than one occasion.
And the difference between doing that in email or a text message or even in a conversation is that those things typically happen between two people. My fab friend Diana Adams wrote a recent BitRebels post about spats that is amazingly insightful and I try and heed her advice regularly, on all matters, but especially this one.
And, as we all know, managing the interaction between two people is difficult enough, but when you bring the whole world into your life by interacting and engaging with others via social mediums, you open up a whole different can of worms.
So, indulge me. Trust that this occasional passionista knows what it’s like to say something that is regretted and the purpose of this post is as much a reminder to myself as it is to anyone else. Let’s all consider and respect the permanence of the online world that we inhabit and, as a result make sure we hesitate before diving into a pool that doesn’t allow us to hit the “do over” button. I know that I will try my hardest to do just that.