Kids, here’s a lesson for you. In this day and age of very public online conversations, one can never be too careful.
It started out so innocently. A rhetorical plea for help, a well-intended response.
It was late, and we were all tired from a long day. I picked up my iPad to wind down for a few minutes before heading to bed. I touched the Facebook icon, bringing up the newsfeed of friends’ posts and pics of the day.
The very first post I saw was from a mom from our school.
“Seeing all these homecoming pics begs the question: when the time comes, which one of y’all is going to take my daughters dress shopping? And shoe shopping? Especially the shoes. I didn’t know they still made those pointy heel jobbies.”
My friend is not the girly-twirly fashion type. But me? I can foof and poof with the sparkliest of them when I want to. Shopping for dance clothes on someone else’s dime sounds just dandy to me. So, I offered.
“I will! I love to play vicarious dress-up,” I posted.
I shut down my iPad and went to bed.
The next morning, as usual, I sat down with coffee and fired up my laptop. I checked my email, then opened up Facebook.
At the top of the list was my friend’s post, along with my comment. But I immediately noticed a very grave error. The night before, I failed to notice that my iPad was logged in to my husband’s account. As far as anyone else could tell, my dear husband had offered to take our friends’ daughters shopping, proclaiming his fondness for playing “vicarious dress-up.”
Now, fellas, if every time you see someone wearing a sassy dress, you wonder how much fun it would be to shimmy into it and pirouette in front of the mirror, I really can’t blame you. It’s great fun. And if this is something you actually do sometimes, I say, knock yourself out, to each their own.
However, I think we can all agree that this is something better not done with someone else’s underage daughters.
What, oh what, had I done to my husband’s reputation? Our social circles overlap heavily, and I suspected many parents from my kids’ elementary school had seen this comment. What were they thinking? I imagined him showing up at the school and everyone pulling their kids close, whispering to each other, “Hide your wife, hide your kids, hide your husband too! That creepy dad is coming.”
I launched into high-power backpedaling mode, trying to mitigate the mistake. It was hard to see the screen through tears — a result of my uncontrollable nervous laughter. How could something so innocent have gone so wrong? It couldn’t have been much worse, yet it was so darn funny.
I immediately posted an explanation, than found the iPad to remove the dubious comment. Then, for good measure, I posted an open apology. But the thing about cyberspace is that we just don’t really know who all might have seen that comment — and there’s no way to ensure that the people who saw it would also see the explanation.
I’m very careful with social media, always aware that anyone, anywhere, at any time may hold me accountable for what I’ve said. I would proudly own my offer to help a friend. But my husband? Not so much…
We’re reminded constantly of the dangers of cyber-bullying, cyber-theft, and cyber-stalkers. Here’s one more thing to add to your list: cyber-blunders.
Overland Park mom and freelancer Emily Parnell writes weekly.