In a recent study of my past friendships, romances, and work relationships that have bitten the dust - conducted by, of course, yours truly - I’ve found that digital communication has often been what ultimately struck the death blow.
I’m serious. A text argument between a previous boyfriend and myself led to a serious breakup; another ex actually broke up with me VIA text message (ballsy, right?); a coworker of mine sent the wrong sales presentation to a client, and the irked client subsequently discontinued work with our company; and more than one person I know has been broken up with when they suddenly find that their Facebook relationship status reads “single.”
So, since common knowledge about when to talk to people in person doesn’t actually seem to be so common, here are a few hints for the curious digital communicator.
Do NOT pick up an electronic device with a keyboard when:
You’re pissed about work.
Putting your dissatisfaction with a coworker or your general situation in writing (unless you’re intending the message to reach HR) is a horrible, horrible, terrible, please-don’t-ever-do-it idea. Bosses check Facebook and Twitter accounts (and, hm, how many of you are friends with or followed by your coworkers?), texts get forwarded and shown around, and emails often have a way of finding themselves in unexpected inboxes. So, unless you want your words coming back to bite you, confine them to untrackable methods of communication.
You’re unhappy with your relationship and/or looking to end it.
Basically, it boils down to this: grown-ups have the stones to work things out, for better or for worse, face-to-face; people who are acting their shoe size choose to hide behind a luminescent screen so they don’t have to deal. If you’re not gutsy enough to open your mouth and confront or break up with someone IRL, then you don’t deserve to be in a relationship with anyone. And indiscreetly venting about your relationship on Facebook for the world to see? For me, that’s an invitation for a big ol’ wave and a venomous “AMF!” Just don’t do it.
A friend got you upset.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, lashing out at someone in the heat of the moment is unbelievably painful. But having the luxury of writing and rewriting your words means that you can hone your knee-jerk texts and messages to a whole new level of hurt. Count to ten, take a few deep breaths, or walk around your neighborhood a couple of times before you fire back, as your high-tech ire could do more harm than you can imagine.
You’ve been drinking.
This is just obvious, but had to be included. Alcohol = no inhibitions = your unfiltered, brutally ridiculous commentary flashing all over your social media networks. Ouch. If you’re a habitual drunk texter, do yourself a favor and choose a designated dialer next time you go out. I’m only half-kidding.