TIM WILDMON: Think before sending relationship-shattering impulsive e-mail

My lovely and talented wife, Alison, and I were awakened the other morning by the sounds of a text message.
There was a time in America, back when Andy was sheriff and Norman was painting, when we would have been awakened to the sounds of the distant rooster crowing as the sun bled through the blinds or by the light patter of a gentle rain on a tin roof. Now, we can start our days with the charming sounds of cell phones and beeps that signify an incoming text message.
Alison rubbed her eyes, looked at the message, received about 6:20 a.m., and read it aloud to me: “You can have the lying *%#!#. You can have him when he is not with Lisa or Rebecca or who knows how many other girlfriends. He is nothing but a low down dirty lying *&%##.”
This woman – we will call her Debbie – had done something that is becoming more common: She sent an errant text massage. She typed the message and accidently typed in the wrong number and hit send. Alison texted her back that she had the wrong number. “Oops! Sorry,” was the reply.
Evidently Debbie has discovered that her man was sharing himself with multiple other ladies and she was done with the “lying #*%!#*”.
Now I only send text messages a handful of times a week, so I can’t remember ever sending one to the wrong person.
But over the years, I have made the very embarrassing mistake of sending an e-mail to someone who should not have received it. With now, what, 15 years of e-mails behind us I would guess a lot of you readers can identify with that.
A couple of years ago I was working with two gentlemen on an issue of disagreement we three had with one other fellow. So there were some back and forth e-mails between the four of us of a serious nature. When one of the guys I was working with made an excellent point that I thought would greatly help our argument, I wanted to give him a virtual thumbs up for what he had written. So I wrote this: “Steve, you are the man! I would give you a high five if I were with you! That was a great response to his ridiculous non-response. You shut him up dude!”
I was feeling good about this situation, smiling, so I just went ahead and hit “reply all” on my computer screen. For those who don’t do e-mail, “reply all” means everyone who has been in the e-mail loop gets your message. You are supposed to be extremely careful before clicking “reply all.”
I wasn’t. I was so in a “that-ought-to-show-him” attitude that I was just clicking hard and fast, full of pride and confidence. In this case, it took me about 60 seconds to realize what I done, and a cold sweat came over my being.
I had only intended for my e-mail to go to the two other guys on my side of this particular issue of contention. Instead, I had sent it to our adversary as well, who I never would have wanted to know that I was treating this as if I were 10 years old. I got that nauseating feeling that humans get when we realize we have made a fool of ourselves.
I waited about an hour and just went ahead and apologized to the guy for my e-mail immaturity. I didn’t know him personally, so we have never had discussions again, but that episode sure taught me a lesson about the hastiness of e-mail.
While my experience ranked a near zero in terms of hurting a relationship, I have known people who have ruined themselves with friends, family and colleagues at work using e-mail.
E-mails and text messaging were the worst thing in the world to happen to high strung, emotional and reactionary people. And, there are quite a few among us. Why?
Obviously, when these people feel threatened, offended or just bothered they don’t have to wait anytime to respond and/or react. It’s “fire the typed nuclear weapon now.” The temptation is too great. E-mails and text messaging make it so easy to communicate without reflection, thought or self-restraint. What we would never say in a hand-written letter, face-to-face, or even a with a personal phone call, we might put in an e-mail or text message because we are much less likely to filter our emotions.
So, let this be a word to the wise. And a warning to the unwise.
Now, as for Debbie, Lisa and Rebecca maybe it’s good text messaging is helping them catch their lying Casanova. But please, be more careful to whom and when you send your messages, Debbie. I really could have used that extra 10 minutes of sleep.

Tim Wildmon is a community columnist who resides in Baldwyn. Contact him at twildmon@afa.net.


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