The Inner Bottom Line ®
A Column on Personal Choices & Ethical Dilemmas by Olive Gallagher
Lately, there’s been a lot of chatter about the pros and cons of airing dirty laundry in public on Twitter, Facebook and other major social media sites, some of which are devoted to mostly trivial noise. There are even a number of sites devoted to featuring just such feuds, especially if they involve a celebrity or public figure. is.gd/wAAts8
I mean, really? Who didn’t go into overload this past year hearing endlessly about Amanda Bynes, while sadly struggling through her life, firing off an assortment of barrages in multiple directions. http://is.gd/kFD53w
This week, the recent scrap between Perez Hilton and Lady Gaga http://is.gd/S9QvvY is burning up cyberspace and represents, yet again, another vivid, pathetic example of what can only be labeled as highly questionable behavior on The Inner Bottom Line.
I think the questions we need to be asking right now, besides doubting the wisdom or maturity of publicly insulting any person, concerns whether or not this choice is effective or smart?
Don’t any of the people indulging in this behavior realize that anything that they email or text is going to be hanging “out there” forever?
Forever is a long, long time. These messages, those words, will never go away. They will remain on hard drives and memory sticks and who knows what the next memory tool will be called for the rest of time and beyond.
And twenty or thirty or forty years from now, when and if they decide to do something important or significant in their life, any number of incriminating or embarrassing tweets or texts or emails or pics have the potential to show up and ruin all their hard-earned plans and dreams, not to mention, embarrass or disappoint their loved ones.
Is that the kind of legacy you would want to leave? Is all the hard work worth risking over a few misdirected, thoughtless messages?
You know what they say; that any publicity, even if it’s bad, is good. But I think this new form of battle goes a lot further than the obvious dilemma of whether or not it’s wise or fair or smart to take a potshot back at someone who tossed a verbal grenade our way, even if it only consists of 140 characters.
This issue involves choices. And boundaries. A large number of important ones. Boundaries that are getting crossed, mangled, trampled, ignored, broken, and violated.
And it also involves discretion as well as intention, along with a number of other options and choices available to us when we find ourselves disrespected, accused, harassed, intimidated or insulted.
Sure, when we’re angry, it’s all to easy and human to want to reach for the most immediate and fast weapon that can fire back an emotional response. “How dare they?” we think. “I’ll show them!” we add. But justified feelings or not, is that smart? No choice in the heat of passion has ever served us as well as a cooled-down, rational and less emotional response.
The final option that seems to be overlooked in all of this instant-rapid-fire-without-thinking electronic communication involves considering that a face-to-face, or at least a phone-to-phone, conversation to address the facts and work through the emotions might be the wisest and most effective and safest choice available to us. Call it self-preservation, call it mild. Call it anything you want. But it will save you a lot of regret and grief in the long run.
I’ve said it loudly before and will continue to repeat myself: nothing replaces a person-to-person meeting and conversation. Even on the phone, while we can hear the nuances of words as well as silences, we still can’t see the flitting emotions or expressions, the tensions in the face, neck and body, the raised shoulders, all the visual clues that tell us so much about the intention and state of the other person. And the impact our words or silence is having upon them, thus affecting the outcome.
So next time someone pushes your button and goes too far, take a moment to think clearly about the choices that you have, and the best way to resolve the conflict those hurtled words have stirred up. Remember, anything you write down and commit to paper or screen is permanent and will be hanging out there, to be used against you or those you love, now and forever more.
You can submit your questions or book private phone sessions with Olive at theinnerbottomline.com, call into her blogtalkradio.com show, “The Inner Bottom Line,” at 661-449-1425 with your questions, or explore her new blog at whatskeepingyouawakeatnight.com. All letters and calls can be anonymous and confidential.
Kindle and audio versions along with the hard cover of Olive’s book, The Nude Ethicist: A Simple Path to The Good Life, are now available on amazon.com.