Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cyber-regret

Unlike the real world, cyberspace doesn't easily forget your gaffs.

I first experienced this back in the good old days when our only form of "social networking" was via email. I hit "Reply All" on a group message and made a snarky remark only intended for one of the people on the list. I tried to cover my tracks by playing it off as a joke, but I am certain everyone knew. For years after that I could barely reply to a message without double checking the contents and the recipient list.

Recently I showed up red faced in the comments section of a friend's blog. Emboldened by the glass of wine on my desk one evening, I pecked out a comment intended to be funny. On second thought, maybe not so much. Of course, it was too late. My friend removed the comment and I was completely horrified. I cyber-apologized, she understood, and the offensive thing was erased. But still, for a little while, it was out there.

Sometimes I regret little snippets of things I have said in this blog. Even when the content is okay, I certainly wince at the way I wrote it. And then there is the way that your twitter messages can come across short tempered and testy. You can sound upset! Depending on your punctuation! I am thinking of that poor woman who twitted about smothering her kids when they wouldn't go to bed (she was joking) and then found the police at her door (they weren't in on the joke). Facebook kills me too. How many times has my witty banter been marred by a typo? How many times has it not really been witty? More than I can count.

Sometimes nothing beats a face to face conversation. Remember those? You can see that the person is joking. You can tell who the comment was intended for. You can quickly apologize for an ill timed bit of snark.

But, put it out in cyberspace and you may as well have spray painted it on your front door. For the most part, you can't easily take it back.

Anyway, keep your eyes peeled, I have an idea for a post that I will probably live to regret.

I wonder if they have cyber-therapy? Or is it more like cyber-detox?

5 comments:

latisha said...

yes yes yes. loved this. i often feel like ive woken up after a drunken party in college with some of my cybertalk. you know the morning when you're not sure if you said something or did something stupid and walk around waiting for someone to bring it up.

i also got lambasted about some posting i did over christmas by family members whom i no longer talk to because of other misunderstandings which culminated in a silly blog post.

its strange. how permanent it is. is see a social anthropology masters thesis in this. i wonder how its affecting this generation of children and their social and business relationships. i mean what about when you can look up your CEO on facebook and find her spring break Cancun photos...

oh the simple times.

latisha said...

just so, there are many many typos in my comment.

Julie said...

You couldn't have said it any better!

Linda Pressman said...

Thanks for the thoughtful post, Cheri. Great as usual! You wouldn't believe how many edits I do to my blog posts - I am so neurotic about the stuff I put out there, I'm surprised I'm not frozen with writer's block!

Stacy said...

We should all sign a cyber-regret clause when we register on a blog-hosting site. "Yes, I understand that I will someday piss someone off with my blog, no matter how nice I may be in person. Yes, I understand that other people can and will use my blog against me, etc, etc."

I've definitely experienced cyber-regret. And lots of it.