What Hate, Entitlement and Stupidity Look Like in the Digital Age

Hey friends, I hope you’ll permit me a moment of non-Catholic, issue oriented blogging today. My home town, the city of Fresno, California, is all in an uproar over a digital slip-up that has resulted in front page news and the dismissal of a high-ranking board member within a local non-profit organization. I’ll leave you to read the full details of the story here, but suffice it to say that this particular board member sent an email filled with not only hateful profanity but also with racial slurs about the President of the United States.

I’m writing this blog post to send to my two young adult sons for their continued edification on the importance of communicating honestly, respectfully and intelligently in the digital age. If anyone else reads it, I hope you will share your comments below on this topic — I know we have much to learn on this subject. LMH

Dear Eric and Adam,

To you, my sons, I would like to reiterate the fact that when you send any form of communication online, by text message, by non-digital means, or even by carrier pigeon, please remember who you are and how you were raised. Let your words be strong and true, well thought out, and expressed with clarity and conviction. Keep hate, innuendo, immodesty, lack of civility, pride, anger and slander far off the page, out of the text, or — better yet — unspoken completely. I can’t tell you that you should never speak or write in anger — but if you find yourself feeling unsettled and tempted to let that show through in your communications, take a walk, play a song on your guitar, or better yet call your mom. Never write anything that you wouldn’t want me, your dad, your grandparents, your future wife, your prospective employer or your pastor to read. If you’re tempted to trash someone in writing, pause, say a prayer, take a deep breath, and remember who you are.

I can speak out of experience in having broken these rules myself once or twice (never with the vulgarity of the person in this story) — I hope to spare you, my sons, a single ounce of the remorse, embarrassment or pain those bad decisions cost me and the pain that the subject of this story and his family are most certainly experiencing this week. In today’s world, one mistake like this one can devastate a lifetime’s reputation and hard work. More importantly, harboring hatred and venting it recklessly damages your soul, not to mention the target of your attacks.

So, dear boys, think twice before you click send. Each and every time.

With love,

Mom 

About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa Hendey is the founder and webmaster of CatholicMom.com and the author of The Grace of YesA Book of Saints for Catholic Moms and The Handbook for Catholic Moms. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and is a frequent television and radio guest and host. Visit her at LisaHendey.com.

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  • Cindy S.

    “The language I used was hurtful to many people and it embarrassed my friends and colleagues. My language was inexcusable and I am greatly embarrassed by it myself,” he wrote.

    It’s notable that Mr. Borba does not apologize in a meaningful way. He doesn’t acknowledge that the sentiment and the attitudes behind his choice of hurtful language are actually the problem. His condescending attitude which refuses to honor the basic dignity of the President as a human being, not just the respect due him as the President, is what troubles and outrages people. And yet, he focuses on the inappropriate word choice and his own embarrassment.
    Your advice to your children sounds much like my mother’s to me a long while back, “Don’t do anything you don’t want to see printed on the front page of the paper.” Exercising discretion seems to be a lost art.


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