Maria Konnikova’s piece in the New York Times, “The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter,” delineates one of the steepest downsides of instant communications: hitting the send button too swiftly and too often. Citing examples from Abraham Lincoln to Harry S. Truman, Konnikova reminds us that some things are better left unsaid—or at least unsent. Many an angry letter was written but filed for posterity to read, not its intended target.
I still sometimes vent frustration by penning notes with each letter scrawled on top of the one preceding it. My message quickly turns into a dark blot in the middle of the notepad, maybe with a hole in the center where the paper thinned because I was REALLY miffed and needed a lot of stacked words to explain why. I’ll never hit the send key by mistake. No one will unearth it from my computer’s buried memory. I’ve said what I needed to say, but not what anyone else will read. Occasionally, communications works best as a one way street.