Deb Erika Knows That Only Fools Rush In

Erika MarksSince this week’s theme is embarrassing stories (Wait–according to my posts, that’s every week’s theme), I thought I’d share one that I bet we can all relate to.

In the late 90s, I had just started a new job as a marketing assistant. Since the company was split up over two buildings, inter-office email was crucial to keeping in contact with co-workers. But as this WAS the late 90s, most of us were still getting our internet legs in working order, so there was still plenty of opportunity for email snafus.

I should know.

On one particular day, I was bantering back and forth with someone from the other building—another young single gal like myself—and she and I were having a grand time discussing all things young and single! Back and forth for an hour or so (you know, between stints of VERY intensive work)—and we were really hitting our stride when an all-company email went out about seating for the upcoming office holiday party. It announced that this year, due to limited space, all attendees were asked to avoid lingering in their seats after they’d eaten their meals.

Well. What peanut gallery could resist chiming in on that one? Not mine, certainly!

So, still in the rhythm of my feverish email banter, I tapped off a witty comment to send to my friend. It was so witty, in fact, so deliciously snarky, that I could hardly wait to hit the send button!

Oh, but I should have.

Because you see, dear friends, the send button sent my email to the original author of the memo, who, in case you haven’t guessed by now, was not in fact, my friend.

It was the head of the company.

Oh. No.

I may have thrown up. I can’t recall. It was a blur. I remember gripping the arms of my chair and staring at the screen for what quite possibly felt like days. I remember my vision tunneling.

And then, it appeared. An email from the head of the company.

I think I threw up again. Or maybe I blacked out. Probably both?

Sometime after I came to, I opened it.

He could not have been more charming and gracious. His response was breezy, cheerful. (One might even say banter-esque!!) He claimed to have thought it was funny.

To this day, I still don’t know what I did on that particular morning to deserve such an email but I do know this: I am glad it happened. Glad it happened the way it did, and glad my snarky response was rated G (and by G, I mean Generally-harmless-in-nature) because the lesson I learned was a tremendously important one.

Friends, don’t let that delete button fool you. The internet and social media, for all intents and purposes, is forever. And more importantly, its reach is WIDE. There have been many times when I’ve read something galling or offensive or just kind of silly and my finger has been poised above the keyboard ready to fire back. But before I do, I take a deep breath. I think on the old adage that served me well in carpentry and one I have quoted here before: Measure twice, cut once.

I have watched authors (I know we all have) respond to bad reviews over Twitter or Facebook or other places and my gut twists a little for them. Please understand—I sympathize completely. I know how much bad reviews hurt, how cruel and unfair they always seem, but in my opinion, there is NOTHING to be gained by trying to defend one’s work (and oneself) online.

That November day, I should have paused. I should have measured twice and cut once. I didn’t, but believe you me, to this day, I do now, every time I hit send.

Every. Time.

Have you ever regretted saying something online—either in an email or on a blog or on Twitter, for example—and wished you could take it back?

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16 thoughts on “Deb Erika Knows That Only Fools Rush In

  1. Oh, Erika, I feel your pain! I tell you, whoever actually invents the “unsend” button for email is going to be rich.

    Very wise words about authors responding to bad reviews, too. I cringe whenever I read a snarky response by an author, even while I totally sympathize with the urge. I’ve been trying to steel myself for the inevitable unfavorable responses to In a Fix (all books get them — you can’t please everyone), and have been practicing sitting on my fingers. Doesn’t mean I won’t be moaning to my CPs about it in private, though. 😉

    • The “unsend” button–oh, do I see a romcom here or what? Someone events the “unsend” button for the computer and it ends up bleeding over into life and whole events get “unsent”–I may have to get on this;)

      Linda, you already have the right attitude…make sure you have a wonderful (offline) support network set up in the (highly-unlikely!) event that you get any kind of negative feedback. Flush it out of your system in as harmless a way as possible. It is far too tempting to imagine social media is “private” when we all know it is the furthest thing…

  2. I don’t know where I would be without gmail’s ‘undo’ button: it gives you about two precious minutes to take back that email. I’ve only used it maybe twice, but each time it’s been a lifesaver! My sister-in-law still likes me…and that undo button is the reason why 😉

  3. Yes! I know I’ve experienced similar situations. Even if you write something you believe/feel at the time, and maybe will for years, if it’s written, it can resurface! “Say what you mean and mean what you say, but don’t say it mean” has been a motto I’ve had to adopt over the years, lol.

    Great post!

  4. Ugh, Erika – I feel your pain. I’ve done this, too. I sent a mildly snarky e-mail about someone to someone else, or so I thought. I guess when I was putting the name in the TO field, I was still thinking about the person I was talking about. Yikes. I was able to explain it away and was SO thankful it wasn’t totally snarky and was more funny than mean-spirited. But I, too, learned that VERY valuable lesson about double and triple checking who you’re sending to. Also beware the REPLY ALL button.

    • Oh, the dreaded REPLY ALL button. So true, that. Honestly, a person needs a good two minutes to scan all their options before they hit that button. Glad to know I’m not the only one who nearly upchucked over a misdirected email!

  5. Wonderful expression “say what you mean and mean what you say but don’t say it mean”
    I think many of us have been in that same position where you are angry,hurt ready to let someone really have it. Great expression Erika measure once, measure twice and sometimes some of us need to measure three times and still not cut!!!!!! as once it is gone from your send finger there is no taking it back, oh lives embarrassing moments (I am not going to go into them oh maybe over a coffee someday with all of us, good for a laugh)
    So far this weeks posts have given me food for thought, can’t wait to see the rest of the week. Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all.

    • Good morning, Deb Mom Marcia! Happy Passover to you!

      Isn’t that a great phrase. But no matter how I repeat those words, I can still fall prey to those too-quick-fingers/too-quick-heart. In this day and age, it is sooo hard to slow down for any reason.

      Looking forward to that promised coffee chat. We might have to order food though. I suspect we all will have be there a while sharing embarrassing stories. I know I have days worth.

  6. Such a great story and reminder. This has happened to (not me) but my husband and because you’ve warned me of the permanence of the Internet, I cannot tell the story here. Next time you’re in Maine and we enter the cone of silence…

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