I'm taking a time out from my Leadership That Matters series to talk about something very important to me. I wanted to issue a public apology to a brother firefighter for whom I inadvertently upset on Facebook. The other day he posted a picture on his site to honor a brother firefighter he was close to, who died in the line of duty on April 29, 2000. Since I do not know the public or private status of my Facebook friend, I will not share the link, but I will share this post with him in the hopes that it helps to explain how terrible I feel.
The issue was, I thought, simple enough, but it brings up some things we can talk about here as well. When the post went up, I "liked" the photo, but said that "While I understand the meaning is to "like" the honor, I struggle "liking" something like this…" to which I was expressing that this was a tragedy and I don't "like" that, not that I thought there was anything wrong with the post. Understandably, there were some upset comments about my posting which caused me to immediately send an apology that I didn't feel sufficiently conveyed my sorrow for the misunderstanding.
A few weeks ago, someone posted a picture of a very young boy dressed in a child's version of Marine blues, saluting a casket. The caption indicated that we should "like" the photo. I did so, but said something very similar, that I really struggled hitting the like button for something so profoundly sad. In no way would I have ever felt like this photo was out of line; it was just so, so sad that "liking" it didn't feel right, even though it was the appropriate thing to do, to indicate your support of the sentiment.
One of the problems with social media is that it provides little immediate feedback. Any issue, no matter how innocent, can easily explode, depending on how someone reads the post. Because the posts are limited in size, the chance of misinterpretation is even more pronounced. Likewise, when something like this occurs, no amount of apologies can bring back that good will. There are also, I agree, plenty of trolls out there who are just waiting to pick apart what someone has said. I am certainly not one of those.
I hope that my apology is read and understood, because it is sincere. Having lost brother firefighters myself, I know how raw those emotions can be when something jars the memories and if someone was disrespectful of those individuals or their memories, I would be upset as well. I do not in any way feel the individual's post was inappropriate or incorrect. I just don't "like" losing another tremendous person, a family member, a fellow firefighter, a brother.
God bless you all and I hope anyone reading this knows that I would never in a million years intentionally do or say something to dishonor another who has given up their life for the ultimate cause.