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September 25, 2013 - Liz Skoczylas
I'm pretty sure the first time I played the game "telephone," I was in kindergarten. I remember sitting in a circle with my classmates, whispering silly phrases in the ear of the person next to me, waiting for the phrase to go around the circle to hear how it would turn out. More often than not, the phrase would be changed into something that made little sense, and we would all giggle and wait for the next phrase to go around.
Sometimes, I think the Internet can be like the game telephone. However, instead of giggles, there are hurt feelings.
Often, on Facebook and Twitter, people post little quips. At times, those tidbits leave the reader with questions... Other times, it's hard to imagine that the poster is talking about anyone but you, even if your name isn't mentioned. Then, something can be taken completely out of context, twisted, and cause hurt feelings.
Back in the days of middle school and high school -- the days of AOL Instant Messanger -- my away messages and "info" box were full of cryptic messages -- song lyrics with some particular crush in mind, inside jokes with girlfriends. Occasionally, there were hurt feelings based on something someone put, but nothing too bad.
Facebook and Twitter came about while I was in college. It became a part of my culture to share things online -- from sledding using (ok, stolen) cafeteria trays, to party pictures (mom, dad, I never partied in college. I studied and read good books), my life, along with the lives of my friends, went online.
Now -- whether you agree or disagree with the practice -- it seems like the norm to be posting online. At any particular time, I can go on Facebook and see sonogram pictures of acquaintances. I can read how a family member is upset at work. I can find out random news from offbeat sources my friends follow. I can post funny conversations I've had, or a news article I've written. Now, Facebook and Twitter seem to be the dreaded "Christmas Card Letter" -- Instead of waiting for December for an update about how wonderful life is, you have that information at your finger tips all day. For better or for worse.
Recently, I've been finding the "for worse."
Unfortunately, someone very near and dear to me -- who I would never want to hurt -- read one of my posts, which are generally quite sarcastic. And from the post came several hurt feelings.
They say once something is online, it's out there. The offending post has since been deleted, but the hurt is done. Although it was never intended to be hurtful or directed at this person, like telephone, it was misconstrued. The only thing left to do is to pick up the real telephone and make an apology -- perhaps, the hardest thing to do.
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