Sunday, March 20, 2011

Alexandra Wallace and the Do Not Send Button

We all know about Alexandra Wallace, the UCLA coed, who posted a video on YouTube - the video in which she appears as a spoiled, immature, drunk or stoned, Valley Girl, who lets loose with a racist rant.

She’s dropping out of UCLA and will have to live with her shame the rest of her life.

She says that it was meant as satire.

Let us not forget Matthew Cucchiaro, who resigned two days ago as the student government diversity director at the University of Colorado. He posted a blog two years ago under a pseudonym. It was entitled: “Today’s Stupid Human Beings: Women.”

It contains such pearls of wisdom as

"Guys, I don't need to tell you this: women are not as smart as men. Now before all you chicks look up from your gossip mags and yammer on and on as you do about how that's sexist, I don't mean all women -- I'm sure there are a couple of heffers in congress or the senate who are about on par with the average male. Also, that Asian character on Grey's Anatomy knows some big words but she obviously doesn't count because, well, she's Asian." (Thanks to the Colorado Daily) (Read more:

The diversity director also said he meant it as satire.

Satire can be so deadly when people take it seriously.

But that’s not the point of this blog.

The problem is the send button. It can be radioactive.

It’s so seductively convenient to push the send button.

When we finish writing or videoing something, such as Alexandra or Matthew, we believe it is the most brilliant piece ever composed.

Of course it isn’t, which is why I advise students to complete their drafts about a week before the paper is due, so that they can give it a final, more objective assessment.

Do not push the send button.

We would get angry decades ago and write a strong letter. If we had sense, we would place it in the desk for a week or two, and then decide if we really wanted to send it. We usually decided not to. But today with the convenient send button too many immediately push the send button. They soon regret it.

Do not push the send button.

I’ve had colleagues who have sent emails containing ad hominum attacks on others. Sooner or later these emails get leaked with great embarrassment to all involved.
Do not push the send button.

If you are angry, do not push the send button.

If you are drunk, or otherwise under the influence, do not push the send button.

If you are dealing with a creditor, think carefully before pushing the send button.

Too many high school and college students, with a sophomoric sense of humor, post on YouTube, blogs, FaceBook, Twitter, etc. without thinking of the consequences. If you do not wish a future employer, college, or your parents to see it, then do not push the send button.

If you say something offensively, then unless a cellphone captures the moment, you have plausible denialiblity. Not of it’s in writing; do not push the send button.

If you are sexting photos (Vanessa Hudgens et al), do not push the send button.

If you are under the age of 18, delete them from your cell phone. If you are over 18, also delete them.

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