I’m concerned about a friend. She and another girl wrote mean things in an instant message about some kids in our grade. She says it was online for only 10 minutes, but someone saw it and e-mailed three-quarters of it to our grade.
At the pool, two people came up to us and started yelling at her. When they left, I tried to make her feel better, but she said “I don’t like having people hate me!” and started crying. We told her to forget about it because everyone else will, but she says they won’t. How should we help?
Dear Online Outrage,
Whether words are online for 10 minutes or 10 seconds, anyone can copy and paste them elsewhere and those words can be read and reread forever and ever. It’s important to be careful before pressing “send.”
I hope this crisis already feels like yesterday’s news. If not, perhaps your friend can face the music and say something like, “I don’t know what we were thinking. We were being immature and I feel horrible. I will never do anything like that again. We didn’t even mean what we wrote.”
This will pall by next month—people will have other things to talk about. But rather than just crying, it may help her if she can admit, at least to herself, that trashing others online was not her finest hour.
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