Stop and Think First


It wasn’t all that long ago that we were warned to be careful before hitting that Send button when writing an email. It’s good advice, and one that still seems to be tough to remember. Hammer out your heart and soul, say what’s really on your mind, spill all the beans and forget the life raft because when you hit Send, it feels so good. You got it off your chest, the weight is lifted. Then, once you settle down and have your emotions back under control, the dread creeps in. How much damage did you do?

There’s no tellin’. That’s the good thing about blogging – you can go back and delete a post if you want to. It’s still out there though; that’s the nature of RSS feeds. But at least some of it is deleted. It’s the same in Facebook. If you change your mind, just delete your post. There’s at least an illusion that you covered yourself and prevented the damage of your burst of hot-headedness.

It wasn’t that long ago that long distances charges on phone calls kept us in check. To save on long distance, we wrote letters – with pen and paper, an envelope and a postage stamp. The only time you were S.O.L. in stopping that letter from being sent was if you dropped it into a big, blue, public mail box. If you stuck it in your own mailbox to be picked up by your mailman, you had some time to run out, grab the letter and put the flag back down before he got there.

I thought I read somewhere recently that only a hair over 50 percent of Americans have Internet access, something that is time to make just as available as the telephone across the country. At least some of us still have the ol’ safety nets in place. But, where there isn’t Internet, you can bet there is cell phone access.

Cell phones eliminate the distance of the world. Soldiers in Iraq can be talking on their cell phones to their wives back home while dodging bullets and bombs. The military thinks this has eased the pressure of worry about what’s going on at home while risking their lives half a world away for our soldiers, thus keeping them more focused on staying alive.

But, let’s think about that. With no reservation, nothing to hinder an impulsive flare-up like thinking about the outrageous cost of a phone call or the time it takes for the mailman to come pick up the outgoing mail, wives are calling husbands on the front line bitching about the baby that won’t stop crying and Dear John emails take half a second to reach its destination in a soldier’s inbox. Is that easing stress?

Oh, don’t get me wrong here. It’s great to be able to call friends back home on a regular basis to talk with as if I lived a few miles away from them still. I love that I can easily share with everyone all at once the things that happen daily on Facebook, and I love seeing those every-day-things from everyone too. The miles between us just disappear.

I fear that the ghost of road rage has taken over, has consumed us with unbridled inhibition and no caution whatsoever about the possible consequences of our impulsive actions of quickly hammered out emails, text messages, status updates/tweets and phone calls.

Nothing can be as powerful as effective communication in any way, shape or form. The key word here is “effective.” Don’t let our vastly improved means of communication become hurtful, damaging or superficial. Stop and think before hitting Send or making a phone call.


  1. Good advice Theresa, but I'm quite sure it will go unheeded especially in that heat of the moment when you have to do what you have to do. I recall at least 2 phone calls I've made within the last year and because they wouldn't pick up the phone it infuriated me so I left a not so nice message to tick them off so they would return my phone calls, damn I feel hateful sometimes.

  2. Ya, we all have done that. With me it was a family member. Oh well...

  3. Did they call you back? As long as the line is open, there's hope!