A wise old soothsayer once said: "Don't press send."
Okay, maybe it wasn't a soothsayer. Maybe it was a football coach.
Still, the advice holds true.
I'm sharing that advice this week because, recently, Franklin County stalwart, former legislative leader, Golden Leaf director and NC Democratic Party Vice Chair Bobbie Richardson found herself in the midst of a hullabaloo over a social media posting.
Full disclosure, Richardson and I are Facebook friends, however, I did not see the post.
But, according to the News & Observer, Richardson posted a comment on Feb. 6 that implied that the Republican Party's decision to stand behind President Donald Trump could send America down a path similar to the one that Adolph Hitler led for Nazi Germany.
In the image, according to the news outlet, Richardson posted photos of Trump and Hitler side by side, over a block of text that read:
"A Senate vote to acquit Trump, presided over by the chief justice, will be as pivotal as the German Reichstag's 1933 passage of the Enabling Act, which gave unchecked power to Hitler.
"Never did Hitler's enablers think, 'Now I shall empower a madman.' Yet they did it, bit by bit."
According to the Raleigh newspaper, after they contacted Richardson, she apologized for the post, removed it and issued a statement:
"I meant no offense with my posts, but I understand that they were inappropriate and I have removed them," she said in a written statement, according to the News & Observer. "I deeply regret letting my emotions get the best of me, apologize for any harm caused, and will work to be more thoughtful moving forward."
You may not believe me, but I'm not using this column to debate politics, lend an opinion about who is right or tell you what to think about our president or those who may criticize him.
What I do want this column to do is provide a reminder of what a moment's action, particularly those made through social media, can mean.
And it all goes back to one of the more popular sayings by former NFL player, NFL coach and current Arizona State Coach Herman Edwards: "Don't press send."
To be clear, it's the kind of message that makes for a great slogan on a T-shirt or bumper sticker, but it is sage advice.
The thought behind it is simple: More often than not, the comments, posts and other interactions -- influenced by intense emotions like anger -- are the ones we wish we could take back.
But, once it's in the universe -- particularly if its digital -- it's in the universe forever.
And, the feelings they hurt and the ill will they engender are difficult, if not impossible to relieve.
So, if there is an issue, topic or event that you feel is contentious and spurs you to comment, I offer this advice:
Think about what you want to say. Write out what you want to say. Read it back to yourself out loud. Read it to someone who doesn't always agree with you, but they offer an opinion you trust.
Then, do nothing ... for at least 24 hours.
If after that time is up, you read the comment again and you still want to send it, go right ahead.
That doesn't mean that what you send out won't cause controversy. It doesn't even mean that it won't be wrong.
But, it at least means you put some thought behind it and can defend it under scrutiny.
But, also remember, if you've taken the opportunity to engage socially, and someone doesn't agree with your post or point of view, others may express their discontent -- usually vociferously.
It can lead to nasty exchanges, hurt feelings, concluded friendships and who knows what else.
I'd like to be naive enough to believe that dialogue, whether in person or via social media could lead to give and take and a sharing of ideas.
Too often, though, it either becomes an opportunity to bash each or an echo chamber of ideas.
If none of those things are what you're looking for, the best piece of advice I can offer is [and repeat after me]: Don't press send.