I owe an apology to Jane Chittick, for what I said in a Vineyard Gazette online comment a few weeks ago.

I have a vivid memory of listening to the Rev. Jerry Fritz a few years back during an August Sunday sermon when he talked about how gossip spreads. He compared it to releasing feathers from a pillow. Even if you want to get them all back you never will. That sermon resonates with me because I thought it was a main principle in my life. I also consider myself a feminist. That seems to be a principle under some strain as well.

The pillow analogy, although right in spirit, does not adequately describe the nuclear effects that words have via

an online comment. I have no excuse for what I said and in the hurtful way in which I executed it. With just a click. I thought I was witty, I wasn’t. It was untrue, mean-spirited, malicious, and a lot of other things that the Gazette won’t print.

You probably have the same question I do. Why? I have no reason, no excuse but I do have a situation. About 20 years ago my life outlook went from feeling bullet-proof to living in a constant state of flight or fight. I am tempted to say that I have PTSD but in reality, it more often feels like it has me. Six years ago another life event brought me back to a place that was deeper and darker than my first experience. I was fortunate to have access to help and to be wise enough to take it. I also developed a work strategy that I thought would be better for me — less people, more online. It has helped in some ways, but as a result of my online assault on Jane, I now realize I have lost my sense of humanity. My constant online environment has removed all guardrails for civil behavior. I have reduced people to a profile picture, my assumption of their values, and their absolute need for my comments to enlighten them. While I have never been a quiet woman, I have never before, with intention, tried to hurt someone. I am ashamed that is no longer true.

I feel it only right that I apologize publicly, in the same way, the aggression was committed. In addition to whatever else might repair the harm I have caused Jane, it is my hope that others who might recognize this behavior, will pause for a minute, take a breath, delete and get off-line.

I hope you will accept my sincere apology for the harm I have done to you, Jane. I don’t know how to reach you personally but I would welcome the opportunity to deliver it directly if given the chance. Thank you for considering my message and the spirit in which it is given.

Barbara Welsh

Oak Bluffs