Michael Lerner

Wednesday - Jan 26, 2011

My cousin, let’s call her Susan, told me am amusing story the other day. Her teenage son, Eric (not his real name either),  wanted to borrow the car, but his dad refused. (It might have been due to the 3 foot snow drifts.) Eric texted his friend that he couldn’t get the car, because, as he put it, “my dad is an a-hole.”  Unfortunately for Eric, he inadvertently sent the message to his dad, who, as you might expect, went ballistic.

Susan, however, saw the humor in the situation. She regarded her son’s faux pas as a teaching moment, an opportunity to remind him that all his electronic communications are on the record and don’t go away. How many celebrities, politicians and now even  nations have been embarrassed by their own words?

While it’s worth considering what you text or email and the consequences should your message land in the wrong Inbox, here’s the problem: If you weigh every word too carefully and then censor yourself, it makes communication bland and ineffective. You either have to express yourself honestly, like Eric did, or force the recipient to read between the lines. But what if Eric had texted that “my dad is being unreasonable”. Same outcome–no car–but a good cover for a slip of the finger.

Should we all lower the volume? What do you think?