Recently, a fellow staff member was struggling with some work issues and decided to send out an inappropriate and insulting email on a Sunday night to our entire school staff. The immediacy of digital communication can be both a blessing and a curse. In this case, the immediacy of email was a curse, since it appears the staff member did not take the time to carefully think through their decision of sending this message. Had it still been an age of pen and paper, I doubt very much we would have received a letter in our staff mailboxes.
I learned the hard way that an email written in the heat of the moment shouldn't be sent! In fact, I have been encouraged to write, not send, and read later. Most times, I delete what I have written. In the few times I have sent the email, I have revised it. Students need to learn that the written message can have different tones and may be misinterpreted. When it comes to something that is important and/or involves feelings, I think it is best to communicate face-to-face. I have also learned that what is sent may be read by others. I sent an email to my sister about my mom's health issues. My sister opened up her email on my parents' computer, then left in a hurry. She forgot to log out and believes my mom read the email I sent. While its message was about "tough love" when dealing with aging parents, I meant no disrespect. No one has ever mentioned it, but I have learned that if I can't or won't say it to the person, I shouldn't be sending an email about to someone about that person. Anything sent can be saved, forwarded, etc. by the recipient. I think all digital users would be wise to think about what they are sending.
A rule I created for myself: Never send an email when I am angry, upset, or greatly stressed out. Remembering this rule has saved me from awkward situations several times. Before the age of technology, I remember being told when writing a letter with anger, it's best to write the letter and then put it in a drawer. Days later take the letter out and read it. In most cases, you will be thankful you did not send the letter. Today, it is so easy to push the send button. It's best not to write the email at all.