Stupid is as stupid does

I recently received a few compliments from readers about my technical ability and Internet know-how. I was pretty surprised, as I feel rather in the dark about all things HTML related, the language that makes blogging possible. I do know a bit about the Internet and I am pretty darn good at researching this and that online. But I wouldn't say I'm savvy.

I used to think I was pretty darn savvy with the Internet. Heck, I hopped online back in the early 90s -- and had the Prodigy account to prove it! But I now keep my pride and puffery about all things online in check by remembering my biggest online faux pas ever. It involved e-mail. And a few Grandma's Briefs readers know about the horror of which I speak.

Several years ago -- during my pseudo-savvy period -- I was the manager/editor of a small editorial department at the newspaper. At the time of which I write, I was in charge of three writers and one photographer. Because our "office" was just a set of open cubicles in a sea of other open cubicles, privacy was at a minimum. So we used e-mail for many a conversation.

The e-mailed conversations were usually between myself and the three women writers; our male photographer rarely, if ever, joined our e-mailed bitching and complaining. (The IT Department, on the other hand, probably saw each and every pixel we parsed out.) Of the three women with whom I corresponded, one, whom I'll call T, was a rather young gal ... actually so young that years and years earlier, she had been in my Daisy Girl Scout troop. I was her leader, the one who taught her about honor, kindness, how to "Be Prepared" and how to make homemade fortune cookies. T was engaged to a real numbskull of a ninny posing as a man, and as the young gal was younger than my daughters, I felt rather maternal toward her -- and more than a little irritated that her parents hadn't stepped in to put the kibbutz on the relationship with the ninny.

Well, T didn't last long working at the newspaper, but once she left, she still e-mailed us all often and was occasionally privy to the daily e-mail exchange among office mates. One day T sent an e-mail to us three older and wiser former coworkers talking about plans she and her now husband had. I can't remember the details, just that it was a rather naive plan, yet T thought it proved her maturity. I was appalled at her stupidity, her misguidededness, and I immediately e-mailed a reply to the other two older/wiser women in the group to air my bewilderment at T's plan and her penchant for the dumb ass she called her husband.

Only, I didn't hit "Reply" to just the two older/wiser women; I hit "Reply All." Which meant T got my the message ... quickly. She got the message that I wasn't the nice Daisy leader she once called Miss Lisa. Instead, I was a mean and bitter old woman who said mean and bitter things to someone to whom I once served as a mentor, someone who was just young and naive and trying to make her way in the world.

I was horrified that someone as e-mail and Internet savvy as myself could commit such a basic error of online correspondence (and judgement!). What a dunce was I.

I immediately (after freaking out to my coworkers) e-mailed T, privately, to apologize for the things I said. She graciously accepted my apology ... and never e-mailed me again. Which I deserved.

The young gal whom I once taught about manners then later interview techniques taught me even greater lessons. Not only did she teach me to always, always, ALWAYS check to see which reply option I've chosen when sending an e-mail, she also taught me that I should never, ever, EVER be snippy, snotty and snarky.

Especially not in writing.*

That, my dear readers, is why I will never consider myelf savvy -- online or otherwise.

*I'm embarrassed to admit that, unfortunately, I occasionally need refresher courses in those lessons. But I'm working on it.

Today's question:

With whom did you most memorably stick your foot in your mouth ... or send an e-mail that should not have been sent?