January 3, 2012

Guns Don't Kill People

Now that I have your attention.....

The last few weeks there have been a couple of online kerfuffles that I think are worth rehashing at this dawn of a new year.

The first happened on facebook. Someone I know on facebook "shared" a status of a friend of theirs. This friend, a mother of a teenager, was beside herself because her teenage son had unwrapped and re-wrapped all his Christmas presents and she had caught him. She said she had stopped speaking to him for the last two weeks, was about to return everything she had bought, and hadn't ruled out beating him senseless (based on the tone of the status, she was not being hyperbolic, it did seriously sound like she was actually contemplating physical violence against her son).

The person who shared this status had only this to say about it: "I'm sure glad my parents didn't have facebook when I was growing up." I thought that was very insightful. Lost in that story, which I'm sure has moms everywhere seeing red, is the fact that this was an in-house problem that this woman decided to share with all of her family and friends, permanently affecting their perception of her family. I understand the woman was upset, felt betrayed and disrespected. But I agree with my friend - facebook statuses are not the place to air things like that.

There have been plenty of times that I have had salacious material for my blog - stories involving SoldierMan, friends, in-laws...all our lives involve drama. And with a few major exceptions, most of it is short-lived.

However, as I like to remind people, the internet is forever. Once it's out there, it's out there. Forever. Yes, I need to vent sometimes, too. But I have a few very select friends I do that with, and privately. Not my blog. Not my facebook.

The other incident is probably more familiar to you, and is pretty controversial since I know people who fell on both sides of this one. Last month, a millie got an article posted on CNN titled, "I'm glad my husband served in Afghanistan, not Iraq." I and many others were offended by it, even after the author's explanation, mostly because I have loved ones who did serve in Iraq - multiple times. I understand the author says she didn't mean to be disrespectful, and that still others felt that she was speaking for them.

We live in unprecedented times, where we as the military community have the ability to affect and control the media narrative surrounding our military members' service. Some millies might say they have no interest in that, but I'm sorry, that's just not possible to avoid. As long as we write about our experiences, our servicemembers, and what affects them, we are contributing to that narrative.

And again, the internet is forever. By posting negative remarks in a major media outlet about our servicemembers - either intentionally or unintentionally - the narrative that affects how the public perceives our servicemembers has been affected for time and eternity.

I agree that, as bloggers, we have an obligation to tell the truth. The truth about our experiences and our feelings about those experiences. But I also believe that we have an obligation to protect our families. The internet, facebook, blogs - it's all wonderful. But these are tools, and we choose what effect they will have, not just on others, but on our own lives, families and military community.

And as long as each of us choose to utilize these tools, we need to wield them responsibly. That means being judicious in what we choose to post, and then accepting responsibility for the ripple-effect of what we write. "You just didn't understand what I meant to say" is one of my biggest pet peeves as a writer. Either write what you mean or just don't write. Sorry, rabbit trail.

I'm not claiming perfection in this area. This is as much for me as anyone else. As we begin a new year, let's keep in mind that we have at our fingertips the most powerful weapon in human history: the power of the written word, individual expression, freedom of speech. It can be used to build up or tear down. Let's use it wisely.


  1. omg my dad did that one year when he was a kid hahaha, he got in SO much trouble when christmas morning he kept telling his three baby sisters what their presents were as they were about to open them LOL

    he was grounded for a very long time haha


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