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March 26, 2015
King's Corner

Taking Back What You Said Isn’t So Easy Anymore

I am not going to shock the world by sharing the news that word travels faster now than ever before.  There was a time when the only way word traveled was if you were in earshot, or via good old fashioned snail mail.  Then came the megaphone, telegraph, microphone, telephone, email, instant messenger, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, and the list goes on.  Communication is literally everywhere, and the speed at which word travels literally puts us at a point of instantaneous learning.  The power and goodness that comes from these technological breakthroughs are astounding.  And the ability to “take that back” is pretty much gone.  On the surface, not being able to “take that back” seems to be a negative of modern day communication.  But on second thought, is it really that negative after all?

This got me thinking.  It’s hard to avoid hearing about some famous person’s latest foibles with drunken, un-edited Twitter bombs.  Sure, the sender might delete them a few seconds later, but there is always someone who “screenshot” it for the world to see the mistakes of their ways.  And then you have the people who tell “white lies” about where they are going, perhaps thinking that admitting to a spouse or loved one that they are going out with “the boys/girls” after work might not be the best thing to say, so they say they are working late instead.  And subsequently, a Facebook post comes out about where someone is and about who is with them, and the spouse/loved one finds out about the lie.  The extremely public nature of communication may forever change what we do, what we say and may actually alter our behaviors for the better.

Would you lie if you knew you’d get caught?  Would you talk behind someone’s back if you knew they’d learn about it within minutes of you saying it?  Would you behave a certain way if you knew it might be caught on video and uploaded for all to see before you even got home?  Now, one would hope that we would all be wired to tell the truth because it’s right.  The same could be said about being forthright and confronting conflict as opposed to talking behind someone’s back.  And the same could be said again about behaving in a way that would make our loved ones proud of us.  But if the rapid and public nature of communication motivates more people to do the right thing, even if it’s out of fear of being caught, isn’t that a good thing?

Recently, I had the unfortunate situation of learning that an employee of one of our clients spoke inaccurately, negatively and extensively about Kenway to some other employees at the same client.  Fortunately, through the 21st century speed of communication, I learned of these dialogues within minutes of their completion, thanks in whole to the good graces of talented client personnel with impeccable ethics.  And although I had to honor the confidentiality with which I was provided the insight, I must admit it was hard to bite my tongue.  But the insight I have, the knowledge I obtained about what they said, and the manner in which they behave in front of me as if nothing is wrong, makes me wonder back to the points I mentioned above.  Would they have said those things if they knew I’d find out?  Would they have attended one of Kenway’s hosted events, if they knew I knew?

The bottom line is this.  Word travels faster and more completely than ever before.  In my mind, this is a wonderful thing.  There used to be a way for the dishonest, the shady and the unethical to get away with wrongdoings.  I know there is no panacea.  But modern day communication channels make it much harder for the dishonest to pull it off for long.  Perhaps that point will drive more people to only say what is right, what is truthful, what is necessary and to the parties that ought to hear it.  And in my book, that’s the way it always should be.

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