I realize that I am dating myself, but I remember when the movie “Love Story” came out.  I was intrigued with the line “Love means never having to say you are sorry” as a teenager.   It's meaning to me at that time was viewed as an almost like a 'get-out-of-jail-card" by essentially giving permission to say and do anything without a consequence.

I had to laugh when I saw Ali McGraw being interviewed a few years ago.  Oprah Winfrey asked her what she thought about that famous phrase "Love means never having to say you are sorry"?  Ms. McGraw stated that, “It makes no sense”.  (Lots of audience laughter).  She went on to relate the following:  “Saying your sorry isn’t the deal…changing your behavior is the deal”.  I found that to be very ironic coming from the very actress that uttered that iconic line.

We live in a world of instant gratification from buying options to social media.  Lots of it is pretty fun, but some can be hurtful.  Many people post, write, and upload nearly anything they may be saying or doing at the time.

LRH is in the business of communication.  In a professional environment, I help folks learn how to more effectively communicate which also includes Pragmatic Social Language.  I am trained in the fine nuances of communication and language.  In any communication, their are perceptions and real realities.  Because of the nature of social media, many important aspects of communication are immediately sacrificed when attempting to share sensitive information:

  • Sensitive conversations are most successful when done in person because more than words are being communicated. 
  • The context, body language, prosody, semantics, and overall content are also adding to the conversation which helps to more accurately communicate the intent of both the listener and speaker. 
  • Phone conversations are second best, but again, the nuances of the non-verbal and sensitive nature are not available.  
  • Finally email, text and on-line media are the least reliable source of sharing sensitive information as the human touch and feeling is rarely communicated accurately.

The Little Red Hen recently learned of an incident that occurred to some folks who are dear to her.  It has all the elements of a great tragedy.  I will call the incident

"The Parable of the Internet".

One cast member in this proverb is a young adult who I will refer to as “Tenderfoot Chick” (TC) who had a family member who I will refer to as “Protective Chick” (PC)
  • One day, PC was looking at a popular social media site. She saw that TC had 'liked' a page in the ticker feed.  PC has subscribed to a couple of pages from a similar group, so she went to the site and randomly clicked on one of the options offered.  PC stumbled upon a media source that contained very sensitive information that it appeared TC has published without restriction.  It was painful for PC to see, so she closed the browser.  
  • Recalling an earlier communication that TC shared saying that she had been struggling with a 'woe', but wanted to wait until she was ready to share it, PC prayed more earnestly for TC and waited.
  • When TC did inform PC about the "woe", PC did share that she had stumbled upon the media source.  However PC was in work environment where she could not expound upon either the "woe" or how the discovery happened while attempting to keep TC's situation private at that moment.
  • TC was surprised to say the least. Later, TC expressed hurt and anger about PC accessing that the media source. Accusations and inferences were made about PC’s possible intentions without knowing the circumstances of how the media source was stumbled upon. TC stated was that the ‘media source’ was private and inferred that PC had purposely sought out and invaded her privacy.  Sadly, TC choose a very unfiltered method to share her anger without finding out about the facts of the matter.  

Because a majority of this ‘interaction’ occurred by Internet, text, and phone…. the non-verbal pieces of the conversation were not available to either party. 

  • As in the parable told above.  TC had inadvertently left an easy trail to access her private information.  PC took the opportunity to talk with TC in person when TC visited PC's home.  PC showed her how easily her information was to  access.  PC assisted TC in making the necessary changes to her accounts and taught her how to write her posts in a manner to better protect the sensitive information that TC chooses to post on the Internet.

Why share this parable?  Because, being prepared is more than having Food Storage and Emergency Preparedness items.  It is also about having skill sets and using critical thinking skills.  Using foresight can be just as valuable as acquiring the “things” we feel the need to have.

Using critical thinking is a must when you are on-line. The Internet can be a blessing and a curse.  You can access the most uplifting information, but the opposite is also true.  So, I have decided to share.....

The Little Red Hen’s Suggestions for using the Internet:

Some of these suggestions you may have heard before, but some you may not have:

o   Educate your family on your expectations and safeguards for using the Internet.  If the family knows the benefits and safeguards/expectations, it goes a long way to avoiding conflicts and difficulty.  This includes browsing history on all the computers.  The history should never be deleted and checked on a regular basis. Phone and text histories should always be available to parents for all phones in the house.
o   Keep your computers in a very public area:  This includes tablets and laptops as well.  The old adage “There’s safety in numbers” really applies here.  Kids and adults are less likely to travel to sites or seek sites that they know are questionable if other family members are nearby.  Also, using the parental controls for everyone's account is necessary, particularly for minors.  Go to your settings and learn how to put controls on that help govern your children's actions on the Internet.  It is not above an adult to put them on their accounts as well, particularly is pop-ups or personal inclinations are a challenge.
o   Parents need to know everyone’s passwords:  This also applies to the adults in the house.  Parents can and should periodically check email accounts and certain social media sites of minors to keep them safe. This is true even if they get the ‘rolling eyes’ and frustrated responses.  Spouses should also share their passwords as well.  Trust is a very important commodity.
o   Have an Internet filter that covers all the devices in the house:  This means phones, tablets, MP3 players, laptops, computers…. the whole nine-yards.  Also, have a password protected Internet service to keep everyone honest.  Believe it or not, you may have neighbors who try to use your Internet.  You cannot control what they may be trying to do on your dime.  This same service can also inhibit visitors to your home from accessing questionable material while visiting.
o   All phones are to be charged in the parent’s room at night: This means the parent’s phones as well.  Having the phones in the parent’s room allows the parent to check the text history and the call history.  No, it is not an invasion of privacy.  It is being a smart parent.  There are so many ways for inappropriate material and people to access our children, so putting on ‘the armor’ to protect them is the loving thing to do.  Additionally, kids should be getting their needed rest because they won’t be interrupted by calls or texts throughout the night.  Yes, this really does happen, particularly with teenagers.  Don’t forget to check music and games that may be on the device as well.  Spouses should check each other’s phones as well.  Let’s just say that things like Pornography are way too rampant.  Also, be willing to stop the service of any one who is not abiding by the family standard until they are willing to respect the family expectations.
o   Limit the amount of ‘screen time’.  Think about it, between the television, computers, tablets, video games, and phones… our rising generation is offered a significant amount of screen time.  As President David O McKay taught us, there is “moderation in all things”.  Set up a schedule with a variety of activities for your children.  This especially applies during the summer months.  Adults can benefit from reduced screen time as well.  Whatever is good for the goose is good for the gander.
o   Protect your privacy when using Social media:  It is dangerous to post where you are at any moment.  In addition it is dangerous to inform the world that you will be gone from your home on vacation etc.  It is amazing whose social media you can access through groups that you may be part of on sites such as Facebook.  If you are a member of a group, you often can see the home pages of nearly everyone in the group. As such, you can see what everyone is posting as well.  Also, parents need to learn what little abbreviations mean. Most people know that "lol" means laughing out loud.  However, there are hundreds of them.  Did you know that "POS" (the nice meaning BTW) means "Parent over Shoulder".  Educate yourself.  Here is a 'cleaner' site that list many for you.  Be safe!
o   Use the privacy settings when using Social Media: use your privacy settings to protect yourself.  If you don’t know how to do this, just search for instructions online!  There are websites and videos that provide step-by-step instructions on how to do mostly anything in this area.

o   Use appropriate etiquette when you (or anyone else) is online:
  • Using all CAPS is yelling
  • Don’t post pictures of people without having their express permission to do so, and certainly don’t tag them unless you have their permission.  If you do chose to post pictures and especially if you are away from home, wait until you get home before you post them.  No one will be tempted to break into your home if it is clear that you are actually there.
  • How safe do you feel about the site, post, blog that you post pictures of your minor children to.  If someone decided to be unscrupulous, you just gave them a picture of your child....and well....you can fill in the blank.  
  • Avoid posting every little thing that you are doing during the day on social media.  No offense, but you need to understand that not everyone really cares about what you ate during the day or when you do your laundry.  Be selective about what you post.
  • Do not post anything online that can be hurtful to anyone.  Once it is on the Internet…. it is there for good.  No matter what you do, there will be a record of it.  I was listening to a commentator speak about the George Zimmerman trial taking place in Florida this week.  In particular they were discussing the witness,  Rachel Jeanne’s, tweets on twitter.  Overnight most of her tweets disappeared from her account.  However, the media had already accessed them and were having a field day with the information that she tried to erase.  For her, these ‘tweets’ negatively impacted her ‘believability’ as she is a witness in the case.

o   The Expectation of Privacy on the Internet is a fallacy.  Even though we try to use all the fail-safes that we can, we take a risk of being identified when we post anything on the Internet.  This is particularly true if it is sensitive in nature.  The Little Red Hen has a brilliant son who is a professional in Information Systems.  He recently took a class that was essentially on Internet Security which to me sounded like how to avoid "hacking".  Its focus appeared to be teaching IT professionals how to put safeguards on the Internet, particularly for businesses who have an online presence .  He shared with the LRH how simple it is to access nearly anyone's information.  He implied that it was rather frightening.  Also be aware that any expectation that you be informed when an individual visits any site that you may host is also  fraught with peril. It just isn't a reasonable or logical assumption.

Measured Honesty:

I found this quote on LDS.org in an article speaking about communication and relationships.....I think it is a great road map for talking with anyone.

One of the most important [things] is open communication. Let me say something about what we mean by open. Some groups in society advocate spilling whatever’s on your mind. We do not. We are with those who suggest measured honesty,” so that we share important feelings but in an atmosphere of love and support rather than hostility, using self-discipline and sincerity in expression. (Italics added)
I would encourage us all to use Measured Honesty in our communication either in person or in cyberspace.  People and sacred relationships should always be the most valued in our society over anything else, even in the face of difficulty and painful circumstances.  


There are more suggestions that I could add…. but I choose to stop here. Be polite…. remember Saying your sorry isn’t the deal…changing your behavior is the deal” and use Measured Honesty when you are online.  Protect those that you love :)

Be safe, smart, and be informed.  

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