The Lesson of Neera Tanden and Boomerang Insults

Question: What’s the difference between love and the internet? Answer: The internet is forever. 

A cynical view to be sure, but it makes an important point.The internet provides a permanent electronic record. There is a permanence today to missteps, infraction and even the angry or dismissive words we share. 

Earlier this week, the White House pulled the nomination of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget. In recent years, Tanden had tweeted insulting comments about lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. In her advocacy for the Center for American Progress, she left a permanent trail of hard feelings. She no doubt felt justified in “fighting the right” in her work as President of the organization, but words can not only sting, but come back to bite you.

I received advice from a mentor 30 years ago about an angry letter I was going to write. I was advised to write the letter, saying everything that needed to be said, but wait until morning to mail it. The next morning, I was advised to take that letter, fold it, place it in an envelope, and then tear it up and throw it away. One of the wisest lessons I have learned.

Think hard before sharing divisive content. Think twice about hitting “send” on those boomerang insults. What goes around…Well, you know the rest.

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