Oh Be Careful Little Fingers What You Type

I’ve always thought I was being smart about living life online. Not scared and overly cautious, but sensible and fully aware that everything I put out there can easily be Googled by anyone who wants to know about me.

But, being the only one in my family to really embrace social media, I’ve apparently become a little bit lax about some of the things I say. Not so much here and at places like Facebook where I know my nephews are hanging out. But, in the 140-character-at-a-time world of Twitter, the one-liner can be hard to resist. And who is an easier target than our families?

You know you’ve seen it played out on TV sit-coms before. The aspiring comedian heads to open mic night with all of his or her best material only to hear crickets chirp after their jokes are delivered. They get nervous, they begin reaching for something to say, they look over at their dear friends who’ve come to support them and out pops some crack at one of their foibles. The audience laughs and it all goes downhill from there. The comedian gets the response they desired, but at the expense of their friends’ feelings.

While much of my twittering online is rather mundane, and I don’t expect people follow me there for the comedy, it still can be hard to resist reaching for a line that you think others can laugh at or to which they will relate. Having become used to the idea that my family was not on Twitter, it became easy to make some of them the subject of just such a tweet recently.

That tweet was seen, printed and shared, and feelings were hurt. When my husband inquired about it, I indignantly responded that I never say anything online I wouldn’t say in person because that’s something I’ve always prided myself about.  But, looking back at that tweet in question, I must admit that I did.

A few days later, I heard this song from Casting Crowns on the radio and while the video focuses on a man who finds he’s slipped into infidelity, listening to the powerful lyrics made me think about how I’d slipped slowly into saying things online I wouldn’t say face-to-face. I’ll be more vigilant again now, and maybe my story will be a good reminder for others that the words you type can turn up where you least expect them.

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  1. Macker · January 17, 2009

    Covey calls this concept being loyal to people even when they are not in the room. Bravo, sister.


  2. Alison Harrison · January 17, 2009

    You’re not alone! I have definitely wished once or twice that I could have an erase button as well as a publish when I Twitter , or comment on other blogs. I’m trying to remember how awful it feels if I say something I wish I hadn’t before I press the button rather than after…work in progress.

    But you might be interested in this story about how a loose tweet caught out an account exec from Ketchum:



  3. Vics · January 26, 2009

    unfortunately it isn’t just the things YOU type that can bite you in the behind – i said something to my brother [offline] a while back about another family member and he later alluded to it online on my facebook wall, this post got me in all sorts of trouble..

    You need to remember that words spoken can also be reposted the way words typed can be copied. knowing what to say is a fine line to walk sometimes


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  5. Jordan · February 19, 2009

    Please share the actual tweet or at least paraphrase – otherwise this is too abstract to learn from.


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