Like a bushel of acid-dipped feathers released into the wind, so are thoughtless words: never to be fully retrieved and each causing damage to the surface on which it lands. This damage may be irreparable; one might never know the final result of some of the strewn pieces.
One would think after 43 years of life (most of that with the ability to talk), I would have figured this out. Unfortunately, with the speed of the internet, I still have (too many) times when my fingers start typing without my brain in gear and I say/post something and don’t realize until later just how it sounds – “later” usually being when the person to whom I sent it (or someone else in the thread, if it’s public) says something about it.
I have, however, discovered that attempting to explain myself generally only makes things worse, especially if I do so while still feeling deeply embarrassed at my faux pas. Unfortunately, simply apologizing is also usually ineffective, as the other person often feels (or, maybe, it appears to me, in my admittedly oversensitive state at that moment, that he or she feels) that my apology is insufficient to atone for my error.
Perhaps it would be wise to step back from technology and go back to pen and paper – where it takes more time to put into words one’s thoughts.
I think part of my problem, personally, is that I try to follow the saying on the “rules of men” that I saw on the internet several times – the one that says, “If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.” If someone says something to me (in text, which has no vocal cues) that appears it could be snarky or sarcastic, I generally choose to take it at face value instead, whenever possible. Perhaps that means I miss some genuinely snarky or sarcastic moments that would be indicators that I had done something to offend, and missing that could mean I also miss my opportunity to make it right.
I tend to be rather gullible and face-value in most cases. If you have a problem with me, I’d really rather you just say so, because if I haven’t apologized for whatever I did to offend you, chances are that I don’t even realize I offended you and you are not helping either of us by not telling me. If you tell me, I can do my best to make it right with you, AND it may help me to stop myself from offending someone else in the same manner.