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Keep dirty laundry out of public forum

SPRINGVILLE — Most of us have heard the idiom, “don’t air your dirty laundry in public.” To keep your dirty laundry out of sight means, primarily, to keep embarrassing or unflattering secrets where no one else can see them, but I take it one step further. For me, it also means to keep your unsolved arguments, disagreements or problems between yourself and your loved ones, lest your “dirty laundry” become the whole town’s business.

I think about this when I read facebook, twitter, blogs or even letters to the editor in newspapers (Yes, I read several of them). So many people seem to dash off their comments, before they think about who’s going to read it. I see it every day. “My boyfriend is a such-and-such,” on my twitter feed. “So-and-so should pick up a book, once in awhile,” on my facebook page. “My mother did such-a-thing and it drives me crazy,” on a blog I read.

It makes me wonder if the people writing such things ever looked at it from the other person’s point of view. Would your boyfriend be hurt? Would so-and-so like to read his intelligence insulted? Would your mother feel good about her actions’ being aired? Would you?

I keep a blog and have published personal essays in creative magazines and journals, from time to time. Before I send my words out into the ether, however, I always ask myself a question my former professor once asked me: “Is anyone you love going to be hurt when they read this?” I also wonder if I’m writing out of anger, a desire for retribution, to prove a point or get back at someone. If the answer is yes to any of these, I put down my pen and pick up the phone to call the person in question. That’s how the problem will get solved, after all.

Because I don’t know about you, but I’d rather take care of my private business without the whole world watching. So this is my challenge to you, Journal readers: think before you write. Think before you post on facebook, twitter, blogs or send a letter to a newspaper. Think about how it sounds, to the person you’re writing to or about and the other people reading it. Make sure your laundry is squeaky clean, before it goes out on the line.

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