I'm a member of several e-mail lists. Over the past few days, "fighting" has erupted in one list over a particular subject. Once I saw the way it was headed, I stayed away and deleted most of those messages.
Today, I sent an email to the list. The main point of my email was that even though there had been a "fight", this group was extremely helpful and supportive and I thanked everyone for that. I've read quite a few wonderful posts over the past few days and wanted everyone to know how appreciative I was.
In response, I received a private, snarky email from somebody who was deeply involved in the disagreement. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I actually sat at my computer and cried about this!
Why did I cry? The contents of her email weren't that bad. I spent quite a bit of time, thinking about this. I think I've figured it out.
When you're face-to-face with someone, you usually get some idea of how they're feeling. Body language, facial expressions, etc. So, if they make a hurtful comment, you're not completely taken off guard. I was. I had no idea she (or anyone!) would respond that way. It came from left field and plowed me down. It left me feeling misunderstood and unappreciated.
Email is a wonderful, but tricky, thing. So, be careful what you send out to others. But also be careful how you read things from others.