Check-valve needed for e-mail

Have you ever said something you wish you could take back?

We all have. We apologize and hope time will heal hurt feelings.

However, it isn’t as easy to take back something we say through an e-mail or on a Facebook page. Once it hits the net, it’s out there — possibly for the whole world to see — and it may never go away.

Electronic communication allows us to get immediate response and action. These wonderful and powerful tools should be handled responsibly.

There aren’t any electronic police to make sure information being sent on the Internet is correct. When we read it, we shouldn’t automatically assume it is factual.

In this age of information, we’re actually becoming less informed because we tend to believe whatever is presented to us.

We are also guilty of saying what we think at any given moment and are not prepared for the repercussions.

What happened this past week in Peabody should serve as a reminder.

A resident — we’re assuming with good intentions — concocted a campaign through e-mail that could have yielded a vigilante mob scene.

Misinformation fed the frenzy, causing people from all over the country to accuse law enforcement of being unwilling to prosecute those who trespassed in Prairie Lawn Cemetery Memorial Day weekend and damaged nine flags. E-mail recipients were ready to hop in their cars, drive to Peabody, and storm city hall — demanding the offenders be brought to justice.

The protest has been called off, but the news of that isn’t traveling as quickly as the vigilante e-mails previously sent out.

Another e-mail is circulating, accusing the reporter who wrote the story of being unpatriotic. Does being a patriot mean we blindly follow mass hysteria, not having all of the facts of a situation? Are we unpatriotic for reporting the truth?

Patriotism is based on the truth — and not just when it’s convenient or in our favor.

We all want the same thing — the sheriff’s department to finish the job they started with a thorough and professional investigation and prosecute the people responsible for their actions.

We were pleased that Sheriff Rob Craft was able to stop the protest. He took a proactive approach, saving the community from possibly more damage.

Sheriff Craft used a good example of cyber mail. He said that trying to undo the story once it was all over the Internet was like dumping a pillow-full of feathers off a mountain. No matter how long or hard you try, you will never get them all back.

This is a lesson from which we all can learn.

— susan berg

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