Pushing the Start Button

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According to what I have read it is estimated that, at the time of this writing, there are somewhere on the order of 450 million active blogs in the English language. (1)  This doesn’t count the millions more dead or “zombie” blogs that have been abandoned or forgotten by their owners . . . or started with the intent of actually doing something at some point in the future . . .  whenever “someday” comes.

I am responsible for a couple of those.

This time is different.  I actually have an idea of what it is I want to do here.  Inspired by some really excellent blogs I have been following recently, I want to add my voice to the multitudes.  Perhaps it will be heard by enough to make a difference.  This is probably the hope of most bloggers out there, and it appears as if I have plenty of company.

The “dontpushsend.com” domain was originally owned by  singer / songwriter Carrie Newcomer.   It was a humorous on-line extension of her song of the same name from the 2008 album “The Geography of Light”   The site featured a collection of email bloopers including many from on-line contributors.

The song begins:

“This is a story, a very sad tale
Of intrigue, romance and electronic mail
A dangerous form of information
And the perils of instant gratification
How many times did I hit my Mac
Want to crawl inside and take the whole thing back
But it’s no use say it again and again
Don’t push send”

The song goes on to detail several instances of email disaster – the office email excoriating the shortcomings of coworkers that ends up being copied to everybody in the company,  the suggestively intimate email accidentally sent by a wife to her father-in-law instead of her husband . . . (Don’t you just hate it when Outlook inserts the wrong “John Smith” in the recipient field?) . . .  the angry reply sent to someone late at night while under the influence of a little to much wine . . .   or the failure to change a potentially incendiary subject line when forwarding a professional message.

Most of us have, at one time or another, pushed the “send” button and soon wished we could undo the damage.  In fact, Google has recently rolled out an “Undo Send” feature to their popular GMail product.  Unfortunately this only gives you up to 30 seconds to change your mind, hardly enough time for regret to set in or the effects of that third glass of chardonnay to wear off.   The reality is that non-realtime communication media including not only email, but social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter present ample opportunities for damage to ones reputation and relationships.

Anthroposemiotics is the study of how human beings communicate.  Unique to our species (as far as we know) is our ability to comprehend and discuss abstract ideas about time and space.   Other animals can communicate concrete “here and now” emotions and needs like aggression, danger, fear, hunger, the desire to mate, dominance and submission, etc.

Humans exchange ideas that do not necessarily have anything to do with an immediate situation or need.  We communicate rhetorically and relationally.    In rhetorical communication we try to influence the thoughts of others and persuade them to our way of thinking.  In relational communication we work together in partnership to reach consensus about a particular outcome.

Don’t Push Send is about ideas.

Don’t Push Send is about how we communicate ideas.

Don’t Push Send is about culture, it’s about politics, it’s about religion, it’s about relationships.  Feel free to add your voice to the comments section, just remember the basic guidelines for comments – if you wouldn’t say it in front of Mom, don’t say it here.