Please Step Away From the “Send” Button: A Refresher.

In light of recent shenanigans in DC, specifically those concerning the unfortunately named Mr. Weiner, perhaps now is a good time to brush up on the dangers of electronic data. Too many people are committing too much information to the Internet. None of us know as much as we should about the technology we use. And we all seem to forget that every email and text, every post and tweet is a long, accusing finger pointing straight at us.

What’s a blabbermouth to do? Go analog, maybe, or try LDL. That’s email code for “Let’s discuss live”. Remember that? Face-to-face conversation? It’s faster than 4G, faster than IM, plus you can actually see who you’re talking to. Now, though, ‘social media’ has replaced ‘social life’. If you interact with anyone at all, a sales clerk, say, or a co-worker, you’ve discovered the atrophied social skills. Curt and abrupt exchanges are the best you can hope for, but you should expect sullen and irritable. Sorry, I’ve wandered off track here.

Back to LDL. The term came to light during the SEC’s investigation of Goldman Sachs’ behavior during the mortgage investment debacle that contributed so mightily to the recent financial crisis.  In an email to his boss, Goldman trader Fabrice Tourre described a complex, exotic trade as “a way to distribute junk that nobody was dumb enough to take first time around.” His boss, Jonathon Egol, rocketed back with: “LDL”. Let’s discuss live, offline. See how that works? It looks suspicious, sure, but it’s blessedly detail-free. It’s also a crafty dodge to self-incrimination and serious criminal charges. Leave it to bankers to come up with a strategy like this. They’ll probably charge a fee for its use.

The obvious lesson here can, and should, be applied to our personal lives, as well. Data can be used against us. Surprise! So think when you’re composing and sending an email, text, tweet, or post. Cell phones can be lost or stolen, and emails can fall into the wrong hands with a simple click of “forward”. Think of the havoc already wreaked by thousands who unintentionally hit “reply all” instead of “reply” or “send” instead of “save”. As a case in point, I cite the unfortunately named Mr. Weiner. He was on Twitter, lewd photo in tweet – and he hit the wrong key. An “@” instead of a “D,” distributing the photo to thousands upon thousands of puzzled, startled individuals instead of just one. Boy, was his face red.

The trick is to consider possible blow back before you hit “send”. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone and there’s no way to get it back. Unless you’re up for some criminal mischief charges, maybe a little breaking and entering?  And that’s another problem with electronic data. It lasts forever, in some form, somewhere. Why not just pick up the phone? Or meet over coffee? Just step away from the computer once in a while and no one will get hurt. Least of all you.

If you have any thoughts on this, please leave a comment if you feel comfortable doing so. In the alternative, LDL, okay?

Copyright © Publikworks 2011.

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