Don’t Be Sorry You Said It


This is the fifth in a collection of newspaper ads from United Technologies that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the original ad.

you may blurt out
you really
don’t mean.
But words,
once spoken,
like bullets
once fired,
can’t be recalled>
And they
can wound.
Before you
calm down.
Count to ten.
Speak with reason,
not just emotion.
You may want
to tear up
that letter
instead of
sending it.
before you sound off.
Give the urge
to blast
a chance to pass.
Otherwise you may
say something
you’ll regret

It’s funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same. This UTech ad talks about the importance of taking a moment or two before you say or write something that may be harmful to someone else. Otherwise, the words may cause you to live with regret for the rest of your life. The ad was written 35 years ago, but it could have been written today, just updated to include modern day communication tools such as email, Facebook posts, tweets, and comments.

In fact, the tools available today may make the problem worse. It’s much easier to get caught up in the real-time nature of tools such as Twitter and Facebook, and to post something in the heat of the moment without thinking too much about it, while also allowing us to hide behind the curtain of anonymity. And once you send it, the message is out there for the world to see.

So despite all our technological advances, we still haven’t figured out how to solve a problem that’s been with us for at least three decades, if not three millennia.

While Google does have its Undo Send feature, it still does not address the problem at its root cause. You should have never pressed send in the first place, or better yet, you should have never composed an email that you might later regret.

So what’s needed is a tool that enables us to be kinder, to treat each other with respect, to be guided by the better angels of our nature. But come to think of it, we already have that tool, it’s called kindergarten.