Lessons to be learned from the North Korean Hacks
Email communication between colleagues can sometimes blur between professional and personal. What bridges would your private messages burn? Julie Butcher blogs about the consequences of irresponsible cyber memorandums.
By now everyone has heard about the North Korean hacks on Sony Entertainment. We know how millions of dollars were lost and how different ethnic communities are up in arms about racial slurs found in leaked, private emails. Important people now get to practice the lost art of the apology. Business relationships no longer shine like the top of the Chrysler building. Feelings were hurt—both personally and as groups. Sometimes you can’t spackle over holes that inconsiderate words make in lives and egos. Sometimes, no matter how professional people try to be, their personal opinions drive their business decisions.
So, if I emailed you and called you a no-talent twit, and then in a few years I want you to be in an anthology I’m putting together, I would fully expect you to say no. In fact, I’m pretty darn sure that I wouldn’t even ask because I burnt that bridge with fire. Hot fire. Yellow and red. Yup. Burnt the heck up. No bridge left at all. No anthology for me.
This is sad because a hot-headed tenth of a second that happened years ago will cost me lots and lots of money. It could have been the one advantage that would get me more readers. It could, if not totally destroy my career; keep it from the breakthrough I need.
I have a total of two people I email with any regularity. There are two people in the entire world that I trust with my most negative thoughts. Even to them I would not call people names or make racial slurs. I don’t disparage other people in publishing. I don’t make fun of books or plots or authors. I don’t and do you know why? Because it isn’t nice and because of North Korea.
I know my friends are not North Korea but that doesn’t mean that North Korea doesn’t repair their computer. Maybe there is a spy who lives next to my buddy and piggy-backs off their Wi-Fi. All of my friends can’t set up non-hackable networks. You might think that now—when you are not a fancy writer with a nifty hat—that what you email to people isn’t important.
People keep emails. My husband has business emails from ten years ago. I personally do not because I read unpublished manuscripts and I delete them and run a drive wiper so that my writer friends keep their books private until they are ready to be sent to agents and editors and such. I know other people’s secrets and so delete emails because I am a little careful and a whole lot paranoid.
It’s only paranoid if it isn’t true and evidently—it is. So I am right.
Does this mean you should curtail your writing or limit your freedom of speech? Oh heck, no! We are mostly By God Muricans and those would be fighting words. But anything that you write whether on paper, email, internet, or in a story can and will have an effect. You need to be aware that your own words can come back and bite you in the butt. You need to plan on this because when an email comes to light on some hacker website where you called a famous author a dipsy-doodle with no talent, there will be fire. If you happen to be friends with the dipsy author when this happens, you most likely won’t be cordial anymore.
Writers, you may not be there yet but you are working towards a profession where you’ll have a public face. Not as famous as say, Hugh Jackman, but still you will be recognized when you visit conventions and book stores. Ears will perk up when your name is mentioned. When you put on your stupid head everyone and their cat will know.
A good rule of thumb is to only say things about people in writing that you would say to their face—in a crowd of strangers. Stuff happens. Private emails become public. I personally do not feel that the trouble it can cause would be worth the pain of burning bridges, lost income, guilt, public censure, and humiliation.
If the stupid makes its way to your fingers and words, your only option is to apologize immediately. As Sookie Stackhouse would say, if the apology isn’t sincere, then it should at least be ornate. Don’t make excuses. Don’t add a lot of explanations about the circumstances of your horrible and very bad day. The person you hurt doesn’t care. Dancing around the problem and not taking responsibility for your actions only makes things worse.
“I sincerely apologize and I should never have said that about you. What can I do to make you feel better?”
You may feel differently. I might think you’re insane for what you post on the internet. I won’t be emailing you to say so. I told you here in this article and now you’re on your own.
Written by Julie Butcher Fedynich
Julie Butcher Posts
What Writers Learn from the North Korean Hacks
Email communication between colleagues can sometimes blur between professional and personal. What bridges would your private messages burn?