Something happened recently that illustrates the perils of non-unified messaging:
Matt replied to my comment via email, and he and I exchanged a few more emails that night clarifying what he meant and setting up an in person meeting the next time we were to be in the same city.
On Monday, Matt picked up my post, and because of the asynchronicity of our communications, thought that I had written my post AFTER our email conversation, and thus had willfully ignored his email clarifications to beat on him like a vicious 8-year-old attacking a pinata. And while I wrote back telling him that I didn’t mean to be harsh, I didn’t pick up on his misapprehension about the timing of my post, and thus didn’t clarify the timing.
In response, Matt wrote his own post clarifying his original post, saying, “I think Chris missed my main point, and since he decided to go public blasting me, I’ll repeat here what I emailed him privately before he decided to blog this.”
Now, of course, I find myself in the bind of how to respond. I certainly didn’t mean to insult Matt to begin with. I could respond via email, but that would leave Matt’s blog readers with the impression that I was a first-class jerk. I could comment on Matt’s blog, but that wouldn’t clarify matters for the folks who read the post before I could comment, or for the folks who picked it up via RSS reader and didn’t bother checking out the comments.
In the end, as nutty as it might seem, I concluded that the best thing I could do was to issue my own post clarifying the matter, and in turn, ask Matt to post his clarification of my clarification of the misunderstanding that occurred when Matt thought my post came after his private clarification of my comment on his original post.
See? Easy as pie!
And so: Matt, I’m sorry that we had this misunderstanding about the timing of our posts, emails, and comments. I didn’t mean to offend or hurt your feelings, and had I known what you meant to say in your original post before I blogged, I probably would have toned down the tenor of my post (though I still stand behind my main point on fame).
Sometimes, we who blog are in such a rush to get our words out into the public eye that we don’t stop to think about whether or not what we write might unintentionally hurt someone. And this post, which illustrates the incredible effort it takes to correct even a minor misunderstanding, just underscores the potential costs of our tangled web of communications.