Whom among us hasn't sent a regrettable email, either a too harshly worded note to a friend or an accidental "reply all" on some snarky comment that was definitely not intended for the whole book club? And there's nothing like the rush of blood to the head, quivering of the hands, tightness in the chest and needles to the belly that accompany the realization that you've sent an email talking shit about your boss to your boss.
I've hit "send" so many times in the heat of passion that I finally went to Willie at Brooklyn Tattoo to ink the word WAIT on my trigger finger. He argued that ink on fingers doesn't last, and I argued back that fingers too often type mistakes which last forever. The pain of Willie's needle is minuscule compared to the suffering that can flare up in the wake of an ill-advised e-missive, so casually shot off and yet so often (and sometimes so immediately) regretted.
Through our lives we've learned techniques for returning to our senses in moments of intensity: taking a breath, counting to ten, leaving the room, primal screaming, pacing. I got the WAIT finger tattoo in order to apply this same idea to my e-communications. While it may seem like an extreme solution, trust me it was in response an extreme problem. The tattoo reminds me every second that a waiting period (just like at the gun show, folks) is what I need to sort out whether what I've put in writing is really about to serve the greater good.
I'm the last one to point fingers (so to speak) but take it from an old pro at creating cataclysmic screw ups. If you're angry-emailing, composing a coarse text to a loved one or thinking about drunk tweeting some poetry, remember that once you hit "send," it's out there for good. "Save as draft" is a beautiful thing. It's not sexy, but it's a feature that gives you a precious moment to ask whether the content of your letter is really going to benefit you and those around you or simply give you some momentary satisfaction while making you look and feel like a jerk in the long run. So in a way "save as draft"is sexy because, let's face it, what's sexier than peace of mind?
The next time you've written something questionable, take a second before you hit "send" and try whatever works for you. Pull in some deep breaths, walk around the block, dance it out... or do what I do. Give yourself the finger.
This post is part of Look Up, a series produced by The Huffington Post and Cat Greenleaf of NBC's Talk Stoop about the benefits of disconnecting from our devices and re-connecting with our sense of wonder at the world around us. If you are taking steps to unplug and Look Up, email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story. And use both hashtags #LookUp and #ThirdMetric to share photos on Twitter and Instagram of the things that inspire wonder in you.