Be Careful What You Say or Write #SocialMedia

Category: Social Media Social Good Series

Caution - Social Media Danger

Recently, I wrote a column that apparently angered some readers as well as a dear friend of mine. Upon reflection, I realized that I probably have diarrhea of the mouth (or pen) and, sort of like Tourette syndrome I sometimes don’t censor my thoughts very well. I’ve since deleted that column. So, as a sort of penance and caution to others, I’m writing this column to encourage THINKING before speaking whatever comes to your mind, or hitting “publish” without careful reflection.

Social Media DANGER

There are some topics that are simply toxic. With #DadChat, I’ve tackled religion, God, sexual abuse, politics, but not (yet) race. And, now I won’t since the column that got me in so much trouble had the temerity to talk about race.

A white guy CANNOT write about race without being called a “racist” no matter what HE says. I wrote about race. I agonized over that post. I tried to moderate my ideas as carefully as I could and to be clear that there was NO racism intended or implied in my post. I’m married to a woman of another race. My kids are bi-racial. HELLO!

Twitter Danger

All those other topics I can do and I’ve done with little backlash. Heck, when the Occupy Movement was going on, I took them on with a very direct attack and got lots of blowback. But nothing as personal (a hurt friend who won’t talk to me now) compared to the reaction I got when I published my column about “Black and White” women.

WHAT was I thinking? I wasn’t thinking. Clearly!

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 8.14.38 AM

So, my lesson. Take on what YOU can talk about. Leave “race” to others. At this point in our culture, race is simply toxic and, in my opinion, we’ve a real problem regarding race when, ironically, we’ve made so much progress. But, I won’t and can’t change the world and the prejudices present when I – a white guy – tries to take on race. I won’t do it anymore, in public.

My advice to YOU. Be careful what you tweet, what you write. And, ask others first if the topic might be bothersome to some. Ask others to read it and honestly critique it before you publish it. Be OPEN to what they have to say.

I sort of like the fact that now that I’m “older” I can sort of say whatever I feel and get a “pass” because I’m “older.” THAT is an excuse. I still need to be careful about what I say and whom I say it to. Discretion NEVER hurts.

Heartbreak on Facebook

With Social Media, it’s SO EASY to put out anything in an instant. That “instant” can hurt us so very much. EVERYTHING we put out on Social Media is irretrievable. Sure, you can delete something (as I did with “that” column), but once it’s been “published” or tweeted or facebooked, IT IS OUT THERE forever. I still don’t know if the one “friend” I indirectly offended will forgive me. What a shame.

Don’t be naïve. Be smart. Be careful. Be thoughtful.

It's complicated - Facebook and Social Media

Ironic postscript: I’m back in “relationship” with the friend that was “offended.” BUT, it turns out that friend NEVER read the column that I assumed had caused the offense. It was something else. NOTHING I say in this column is invalidated by this irony. I am so sensitive to talking about race that I assumed this was the root cause of her anger. Again, ironic…

  • jack43

    Sad. If we don’t talk about the “hot” topics we are surrendering to those who want to divide us with their speech. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it…

    • Bruce Sallan

      I normally agree with you on this @jack43:disqus but we need to be sensitive to specific feelings of specific people – this was not written about a broad topic but a more specific one where a specific friend took offense and I should have been more sensitive and careful!

  • Amy McCloskey Tobin

    With all due respect Bruce, it has nothing to do with you being WHITE that angered me in that post. I talk about race ALL of the time, and guess what, I’m white. THAT post generalized in an offensive way based on EXTREMELY anecdotal evidence.

    This pretend mea culpa is not genuine… you cannot write a post saying that black women don’t care about relationships built on trust etc. and that they instead prefer swag without being called to the carpet.

    • Bruce Sallan

      @AmyMccTobin:disqus – I was wrong; I deleted that post. Is that an acceptable mea culpa?!

  • Patricia Weber

    If we cannot talk about the very issues and topics that influence everyone of our lives, the silence will keep us all prisoners. And as I saw on your post, even your deletion of the offending post of COURSE did not satisfy the offended. I think that speaks volumes to a lesson. Not sure of that exact lesson but – I am thinking about it before I speak up.

    • Bruce Sallan

      I appreciate your comment @patweber:disqus – isn’t ironic that that post was NOT the one that caused my friend’s “upset” with me? But, that I thought – immediately – it had to be “that” one?

  • David Weber

    What others have written in comments below, I agree with: that to AVOID expressing ourselves about race in a public forum is NOT what we as a nation need. Race is, unfortunately, a topic that fewer people rather than more are comfortable expressing themselves about.

    Others who are motivated to do so don’t know how to do it effectively, meaning, in a manner that will more likely keep dialogue going–moving us at least by inches closer to having a set of conditions we embrace with respect to differences in race–rather than likely closing off the discussion.

    As a white man, it has taken me DECADES to learn little by little how to at least feel comfortable talking about race in public. I don’t know how effective I am when I participate in such conversations, and I never find it “easy,” but I am certain I am more effective than I was, say, 20 years ago.

    What helped me was to learn, painfully, that I was not particularly “enlightened” about the matter of race. I don’t think I was a complete putz about it, but I had miles to go, in learning and acquiring empathy and being more willing and able rather than less to attempt to wear the shoes worn by others.

    What also helped me followed on from that point: in various aspects of life, especially ones that feel small in scale, benefits are accorded to the person who is white. Certain white readers will consider that to be a wrong and wrong-headed statement. But I consider it a STARTING POINT for a white person to at the very least take seriously the possibility that it is true.

    • Bruce Sallan

      @disqus_dU5ulU60s7:disqus – how prescient this post was in light of what has transpired since, don’t you think? #DadChat

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