In this age of instant communications, it seems there are dangers lurking everywhere.
How often have you had an opinion about, been upset over, or simply weren’t thinking in enough detail about something, wrote an email about it to someone and then hit ‘send’ before really grasping how it would be received on the other end?
Communicating used to be simple. There were two basic ways to do it: by regular mail or by phone. If you wanted to speak to someone, you picked up the phone and called them. If you didn’t want to have a live conversation with that person, it was easy. If they called, you didn’t have to answer the phone, which kept ringing and ringing. No voicemail, no caller ID (so you could thankfully never be absolutely sure who it was) no disembodied automated voices from a machine saying you’d get back to them as soon as you could – just the haunting echoes of a ringing telephone.
If you wanted to communicate by mail, you could choose your words wisely as you scribbled out your best cursive or tapped away on a typewriter (if you were lucky, it had a correction tape). There was a time element in this that forced greater forethought and, perhaps even more eloquence in the final product. You had to fold the note, seal it in an envelope, place a stamp on it and then find a mailbox. This prompts the question: how many times did you find yourself completely changing your mind about what you said or deciding not to send it at all before it even got close to that mailbox?
Then came email. It took me a while to realize this, but I am learning how the written word can live well beyond its supposed cyber shelf- life –- capable of being ‘read-into’ too much, twisted and even used as a weapon. For that reason, I try to read, re-read and sometimes save an email as a draft. Then I’ll come back to it, see if I feel differently, edit or even delete it. On a few occasions, when the email carries some gravity, I’ll call a friend or even my grown daughter and run it by them. The perspective they lend can rescue me from committing an untimely gaffe that I might forever regret had I not taken that step back from it.
I guess my point here is that oftentimes I forget my manners when emailing people. Frequently in a rush to get to the point quickly in my message, I’ll hit the ‘send’ prompt, forgetting the niceties. I realize I’ve failed to ask how someone is faring, forgotten to show interest in their lives or even omitted ending my email with a polite phrase or two, the way I was taught to so long ago.
It takes so little time and yet it is capable of resulting in a smile or perhaps a good feeling that might make someone’s day.
Just a thought for the day, I suppose.
Uh-oh — I just hit the ‘save published’ button!