On Sunday morning I found myself at the gym for 45 minutes on the elliptical. I knew it was going to be my last chance to get a good workout in before my trip to Ireland (I’M GOING TO IRELAND FOR EIGHT DAYS!!) and I foresee much beer drinking and starch-eating while in the land of wonderful accents, and coming off of several weeks fo Jewish holidays filled with copious amounts of delicious Jewish food, the extra five pounds I’m carrying right now needed to be on that elliptical. It was the least I could do.
Imagine my surprise that amidst a sea of ipods and mp3 players, the exerciser beside me was elipticizing to the tunes on his discman, circa 1993. He had his device strapped to his person using a belt.
In a moment of “WOW! I can’t remember the last time I saw one of those! It was probably back in the days when I watched Beverly Hills, 90210. But, you know, during the good years. Probably during that year that they all repeated their sophomore years.”
So, obviously, I tweeted about it.
The responses I got were mostly unsurprising. People wondering if said person was geriatric, if he was using it ironically, if I had taken a picture. Unfortunately, not everyone thought that this moment needed to be shared through social media. And, well, no only was the moment not meant to be shared, but it was quite SHALLOW of me to discuss said discman with other people?
I’m not immune to having moments of possibly shallow and somewhat superficial. I have done it beforeâ€”I have judged people who wear leggings as pants, and red carpet gown choices, and people who wear black undergarments under white bottoms, and celebrity haircuts, and teens who wear pajama pants to school. So, I’d never say that I don’t have my judge-y moments. Is there anyone who would say they have never? ButÂ I do not talk about weight. I do not talk about things a person cannot controlâ€”how a person IS is very different than how a person behaves, and the choices a person makes in musical workout equipment.
So, no, I don’t consider myself to be a shallow person.Â Funny? Sometimes, mostly by accident. Sarcastic? You bet. But shallow, not particularly.
And I didn’t actually think that the tweet in question was really all that shallow.
Which is why I was slightly surprised by the reaction I got within minutes of shooting out my tweet.
My reason for posting this is not to call this particular person out. She has unfollowed me, I have unfollowed her, and her tweets to me, it seems, have been removed. I am assuming this is the case, since I can no longer find them online.Â My reason is that as soon as this whole thing began, I started to think and wonder about the things we share in this space. I began to wonder if this personâ€”had she been on the elliptical to the left of meâ€”would have turned to me and said, “Wow Ali! I think you’re really shallow!”
Cher, in Clueless: Would you call me shallow?
Dion: No. Not to your face.
And I might be wrong, but I’m thinking that she wouldn’t. She might *think* it. And that’s totally fair. She’s allowed. But doesn’t it seem like something you’d keep to yourself? She could think it and unfollow me and go about her business. But instead, she chose a public forum to call me out and tell me that not only am I shallow, but I need to take a few minutes to internalize the life lesson she had bestowed on me and not run away.
But…isn’t calling someone out on Twitter in this way worse than my actual original tweet? Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to *not* tweet that out? Maybe a DM or an email would be more considerate, less rude. Or maybe no response at all is necessary here. Just maybe.
Now, the tweets are gone, deleted, wiped off Twitter. As if they never happened.
But they did happen.
And then it got me thinking about the whole deleting concept as a whole. I have seen it many timesâ€”tweets, replies, comments, conversations, sometimes even entire posts get deleted.
But is it actually possible to take something back once it has been put out there?
My daughter once did a Hebrew book report on a book that revolved around this concept that once you say something about someone, you can never take it back, even if you apologize. The children in the story were asked by their teacher to write down the mean thing they had said and then rip it up into tiny shreds and then toss them out of the window on a windy day. The pieces of paper were scattered near and far. The teacher then asked the children to go and pick up all of the pieces of paper. “It’s impossible!” the children responded. “Exactly,” said the teacher. Exactly. They cannot all be picked upâ€”they are flying around, out there, forever.
The same can be said for what we write online.
We can say things in the heat of the moment and regret themâ€”and then delete, delete, delete. But the damage has already been done, especially since things can be cached, things can be screenshot-ed. Aren’t we better off owning up to our words and admitting that YES! We said those things and in the moment we thought they needed to be said, but we are sorry. We have learned from it. We will do better next time.
I don’t know. I don’t know if this is the right answer. I don’t know if there *is* a right answer here.
But I do know that I wish she hadn’t called me out so publicly on Twitter.
I do know that I wish she had kept her thoughts to herself and quietly unfollowed meâ€”after all, I’m obviously not the type of person she wants to follow on Twitter, and that’s okay. Different strokes, yanno?
And if she felt she needed to say something, a DM or an email would have been way more appropriate than a public calling-out.Â BecauseÂ then we could have had a conversation, we could have kept it private.
And I do know that her going in and deleting all the tweets, pretending that it never happened, made me feel even worse.
And I do not know that I wish the dude with the discman had wiped down his elliptical machine after he was done using it, because I have zero tolerance for thatÂ behavior. Gross.