I was out to lunch with a friend recently and we were having a great conversation. We were laughing and talking about both the healthy and toxic relationships in our lives. At some point, she looked at me and said, “You know, I really need to clean out the text messages on my phone. I’d hate so-and-so to find them.”
One moment. Everything changed.
Think about it for a minute. What if you forgot to lock your phone and someone picked it up. Is there something you would be ashamed of? Is there something you would fear? Is the thought of such a scenario enough to make you anxious, suspicious, or afraid?
I know I’m taking a chance in saying this, but I’m thinking the answer is yes. I’m not talking songs with explicit lyrics or dirty pictures on your photo stream. I’m talking about words. And not even the “naughty” ones.
You know that one time you were sitting in a room with someone and they were aggravating you so much and the only way you had of expressing your frustration was to text your best friend? They texted back some smart aleck remark that undoubtedly made you crack up and took the edge off your aggravation. You felt better and there was no harm done.
Well what if that person picked up your phone and saw the text the next day. Was the temporary relief of your frustration worth the hurt of such a revelation? You’ve been caught red-handed and the price might be a friendship. We don’t think about what we’re sacrificing when we hit send.
We all know what gossip is and what it does and that it hurts. Mostly because, at some point in our lives, we’ve been gossiped about. We’ve heard about it through the grapevine or caught our bff betraying us in the hallway between classes. I’ve been both the instigator and the victim of some fierce gossip. It’s painful. It’s shameful. And I think that most of us avoid it these days. At least we think we do. But gossip manifests itself in many ways. And today I think it often rears its ugly head in the form of a text.
My first instinct is to do the obvious thing and lock my phone. But lets face it. The people I’m afraid of finding these gossip texts are actually some of the people who know my password. Or would be able to figure it out. Which makes it even worse, if you think about it. What a betrayal.
My second thought is to delete my text history with certain people and erase the evidence. Which isn’t a bad idea, honestly. My motive isn’t to eradicate my guilt; my actions are there whether or not the texts are accessible. My motive is to keep my loved one from experiencing hurt. So I really don’t see anything wrong with deleting the history.
The question is what comes next. What happens after the evidence is erased and I have my fresh start? Personally, I like to keep my text history to refer back to from time to time. I like to create memories that are worth saving. Not erasing. So I make a choice and a commitment. To myself and my friendships.
I commit to sending only messages worth saving. Anything I’ll want to delete shouldn’t be said in the first place. Why risk the hurt, the damage, and the loss that could result from careless gossip.
It’s a lesson we don’t seem to learn easily. We learned it in kindergarten and again in high school. It reared it’s ugly head in the break room at work and again during the kids’ soccer practice. I don’t care what the old rhyme says about stick and stones. Words hurt. I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve been hurt by words. I’d like to prevent myself from doing that same damage to others.