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The Midlife Sage Says: Write – But Don’t Send – That Snarky Email

Most of you can relate to this egregious error:

Some fool offends you on a bad day so you have no other option but to get revenge with the instant brass knuckles available through the Internet. Normally a sweetheart, you suddenly morph into a gangster, but instead of a gun you have a computer that becomes a poison pen of pomposity as you rip the perpetrator to cyberspace shreds.

Your scathing message contains all the seething fury you’ve ever felt in your entire life plus some residual rage for any transgressions that ever happened against your ancestors and their neighbors. For extra emphasis, you pound exclamation points, add bold typeface, and underline a final admonition so withering it would cause a tough biker to run home crying to his mommy.

You proudly hit the send button but then watch in horror as the verbal vitriol goes to multiple unintended addresses.

You desperately try to punch the delete key, but unfortunately, your angry, nasty email is received by your boss/mother-in-law/pastor and you feel lower than a loser. To compound the angst, the email remains on the Internet, ever ready to haunt you forever. The only solution is to leave the country for a few years and tend goats in some lonely Italian hillside. Cue music from The Godfather.

Some of us more mature women are extremely grateful that we’ve lived most of our feisty years before the use of personal computers. Back in the seventies, if someone irritated us, we just blackballed them from our secret club or anonymously subscribed to a wicked magazine and had it mailed to their homes. Yes, we were rowdy rebels back then. Who knows what shameful shenanigans we would have initiated if we had the power to insult the entire planet through the invention of the World Wide Web? The possibilities and consequences stagger the mind.

My advice to young women is to write the email and include every ounce of emotion, pain, and vengeance into the text.

Be amazed at your creative genius, marvel about your powerful prose, and defiantly shake your fist in the air after you smack that last punctuation. Then stop. Save the message to read the following day, smile, and then delete it. You’ll still feel better and no one will have a copy of a vile email that could stay in your employment file. And, there is a chance that the offending person could apologize, but that won’t be easy if she receives your steaming message telling her to go live with the Devil.

The Internet makes it convenient to send either a cheerful birthday greeting or a condescending complaint. Don’t be that person with a reputation for sending ugly emails. Write it, delete it. The world needs less anger and more pasta, wine, and violin music.


Elaine Ambrose is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.