A provocative line in a song I have known since childhood declares, “Time flies on wings of lightning. We cannot call it back … ”
Based on an embarrassing social networking experience I had yesterday, I think we could safely paraphrase: “Words fly on wings of lightning. We cannot call them back!”
It all started when I noticed a comment from a prolific tweeter from London:
if you are retweeting something from google in order to get a wave invite then you are a <deleted>. and so are they. that is all.
Since I had just done that abominable thing, I quickly looked up <deleted> in the dictionary and posted this tweet:
Just learned a new word: <deleted> = contemptible person; jerk. Based on Twitter commentary, I must be one. :)
When that tweet reached Facebook, it triggered a small avalanche of comments. It was great to see a friend speak up and say:
you are definitely not a <deleted>.
It was also nice to hear from a young man who used to live next door, but whom I haven’t seen in many years:
...my brother calls me a <deleted> all the time. I'm glad to get a definition on that.....sort of.
But I started to wonder what I had done when an acquaintance suggested:
Tip: Don't have this conversation with anybody from the UK.... :-) … It has a very specific meaning across the Atlantic, one that is best left unexplained on a public forum :-)
What had I done? I quickly dug a bit deeper into the meaning of <deleted>, only to find he was exactly right. I shouldn’t be using such language in a global forum.
Well, words had flown on wings of lightning. I even tried to call them back via Twitter:
Actually, when I looked into it, it is definitely British slang that is not used in polite company. Oops!
Lesson learned today: Be very, very wary of repeating slang used by a tweeter from another country. Could be very embarrassing.
It was heartening to hear from some friends who obviously had a chuckle, but questioned my motives at first:
Whew! I frankly was a bit surprised to see the Mark Dixon I know using that term. We all learn something new every day!
Yeah Mark, I was gonna jump in and say something, but then I realized i have no business correcting anyone's language.
LOL, I was wondering when you'd figure that word out. ;-)
Well, I have been painfully reminded again that we must be very careful about what we sling out into cyberspace. Words do indeed fly on wings of lightning!