Have you ever felt that way about responding to something or someone electronically?
Blog, Twitter, email, Facebook, forum, IM, text message, chat — having the option and capability to hit Reply right away seems to impose an urgency to do just that.
Most times, such urgency is an illusion untethered from reality. “Most times” — not in a 51% sort of way, but more like a 92% sort of way, if you get my drift. Yes, at the risk of overstating my case, I suggest to you that the urgency of most digital communication is a pseudo-urgency.
I suspect that most of the time, succumbing to such false urgency has little consequence beyond social pressure, inner tension, and time consumption. (That all sounds like something far more than “little consequence”!)
That aside, giving in to such imaginary urgency has far weightier consequences when responding in circumstances that roil personal relationships, easily impacting them negatively.
So I urge you to grant significant weight to my five essential guidelines for digital communication:
- If you think your attitude will be milder in five minutes or five hours, wait.
- If you think your wording will be more careful after an hour’s worth (or a day’s worth) of thoughtful editing and review, wait.
- If you think your present circumstances are affecting you even though they don’t pertain to the message in question, wait.
- If you think your choice of expression would moderate significantly face-to-face, wait.
- If you think thinking about your response will change it, wait.
Otherwise, figure on falling short of constructive dialogue.
Unless, of course, you’re just engaging in weightless, inconsequential back-and-forth techno-babbling because you can and because you don’t know what else to do and because you want to.
Then you need a different set of guidelines. 🙂