When You Accidentally Email, Tweet Or Facebook an Enemy.

Via Ed & Deb Shapiro
on Mar 10, 2011
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The good news is that we have just discovered how social networking can generate a new type of forgiveness!

We aren’t super tech savvy and when we were finally able to get on Linkedin Ed wasn’t sure what to do next. Pressing what looked like an innocuous button he thought he was inviting just a few new colleagues and work contacts but what he actually did was inadvertently invite EVERYONE we had ever sent an email to, including Deb’s 88-year-old mother.

We only knew this had happened when we started to receive hundreds of ‘accepts’ from everyone and anyone, including three people Ed used to know but, due to difficult circumstances, he no longer had anything to do with. In Buddhist terms these people are simply known as the enemy – anyone you had a hard time with or who is having a difficult time with you.

Our friend Kiri roared with laughter when we told her. She said it also happened to her and happens more often than we may realize. “What many of us fail to realize is that with a simple click of the mouse our worlds open up far and wide and, along with long lost friends, people we have consciously chosen to close out of our lives come tumbling back in. Suddenly we are faced with having to reject them again or to open up and accept their online offerings of friendship.”

Kiri’s husband Phill experienced just that: “When Phill joined Facebook it was for business purposes, a way to promote his new tattoo shop and share photos of his art. What he didn’t expect was that he would start receiving friend requests from dozens of people from his distant past. “Sure”, he thought, “why not say hello?” thinking this would be similar to running into someone from high school in the grocery store. But after accepting someone he hadn’t spoken to in nearly two decades, he then received a message wanting to rehash a fight they had had when just kids. “Why did you punch me that day?” the new/old friend demanded to know. Phill was faced with a whole slew of emotions about the vulnerability this world of social networking elicited. He had a choice: to close off again or see this as an opportunity to move forward and release old pains associated with his past relationships.”

In the same way, unintentionally, Ed had accidentally invited three “enemies,” three people he would probably have never communicated with again, to be on Linkedin, and he felt very odd. But in retrospect it was brilliant. Or perhaps, as the saying goes, coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous! With their acceptance, anything that was unresolved was released. It turned out to be a simple, impersonal and neutral way to offer and receive an olive branch.

There’s a huge feel good factor when adverse feelings dissolve. Gone is that nagging and uncomfortable negativity hovering somewhere in the back of your monkey mind. Gone is that distasteful communication or misunderstanding. In their place is a sense of relief and even forgiveness. Your world can move forward again. In Ed’s case, he doesn’t feel any particular need to see or communicate further with any of the three people, but he has no concern if he does. Which leaves him feeling a whole lot happier and freer.

Releasing past conflicts is, therefore, an unexpected fringe benefit to modern technology (we are sure it wasn’t listed as one of the original purposes!). If you are at all shy, unwilling or unable to face someone you are having a problem with then you can just email / facebook/ tweet / linkedin them. And hey presto, no problem!

Have you ever done this and, if so, what was the outcome? Do comment below.

Top photo by Zach Klein at Flickr.com


About Ed & Deb Shapiro

Ed & Deb Shapiro are the authors of new The Unexpected Power of Mindfulness & Meditation. Deb is the author of Your Body Speaks Your Mind, now in 19 languages. They have six meditation CDs. See more at their website.


4 Responses to “When You Accidentally Email, Tweet Or Facebook an Enemy.”

  1. René Cousineau says:

    Ha! This post totally reminds me of an extremely recent mass e-mailing faux pas that I made! Ed's mistake, while seemingly unfortunate at first, is a nice reminder that not everyone is perfect, and sometimes these things turn out for the best.

    I'm not really one to make enemies but like anyone, I definitely have at least a few. I've been fortunate enough in that none of these people have ever come forward wanting to rehash anything. But I have found out, primarily through Facebook, that there are a lot of people from my past (people whom I thought I had lost all meaningful contact with) who are so generous with their love and support that I am reminded of why we had a connection in the first place. It's amazing, when you think that an important relationship has dwindled, to find out that there is still as much love there as there was to begin with.

    Thanks for this post!

  2. One time my mom sent an email to my sister trashing an ex. She accidentally sent it to the ex instead. Can I say "it all worked out for the best". Yes, of course. but it was really annoying every step of the way. Even when things work out for the best, it doesn't have to be enjoyable and one can't always realize that in the middle.

  3. ed shapiro says:

    Now that is a funny story James – or at least you said it turned out well :-))

    love what you say here:
    "Even when things work out for the best, it doesn't have to be enjoyable and one can't always realize that in the middle."

  4. penelope says:

    a colleague was messaging a co-worker to commiserate about another co-worker. 'the walrus is actually being nice to a customer on the phone'. she accidentally sent it to 'the walrus'. 'the walrus', let's call her sally – reported the incident to HR and the offending colleague – brandy – was summoned to HR for a spanking. HR handled the incident by having the two co-workers meet, under the supervision of their manager, and for brandy to apologize. this uncomfortable convergence resulted in tears, but ultimately a bond was formed and both brandy and sally each became aware of some less than flattering behaviors. it has definitely changed both of their attitudes for the better toward everyone they interact with. certainly not the best way to come to some self-awareness, but it seems to have resulted in a positive way (when it really could have made them hate each other and hate going to work). and for those of us who learned of the situation, there was a lesson, as well. we've all been more respectful toward one another and that makes for a more productive and happier work day.