Saturday, October 15, 2016

Nothing says "I love you" like a thirteen year old falsely attributed email forward...

Last night, I was watching the very end of the wretched sixth season of CHiPs.  I swear, that show really went weird during its final death throes.  It was so bad it was almost good.  I was eagerly wading through the shitty last episodes, watching 80s era child star after child star (Soleil Moon Frye, Heather O'Rourke, Keith Coogan, Tammy Lauren, Adam Rich, etc.) parade through each episode.  Then, it happened.  At about 9:00pm my time, an email landed in my inbox.  It was from a couple of my relatives.

Now... it's not so often that my relatives send me anything original anymore.  I very rarely get so  much as a "Hi, how are you." email from extended family.  In fairness, I don't generally send those kinds of emails, either.  I confine most of my chatter to Facebook these days because it's more expedient.  However, I am still apparently on the big family email list and I do get, sometimes on a daily basis, forwarded emails from family members.

Case in point.  Yesterday, I received a version of this email, supposedly penned by the late Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes fame.  Andy Rooney died several years ago and was well known for his acerbic wit and curmudgeonly style.  Despite his reputation for being cranky, I had to laugh when I saw the forwarded email supposedly written by him.  Even without checking Snopes, I would have still very much doubted that his views aligned with the racist comments in this old email that has been making the rounds since the early 00s.

Rooney was a talented writer and expressed himself gracefully.  Would he have really written something along the lines of "It doesn't take a whole village to raise a child right, but it does take a parent to stand up to the kid and smack their little ass when necessary and say 'NO.'?" And even if he had written the email and did agree with its sentiments, why on earth would people in my family think I would appreciate or agree with that tripe?

I will admit that the email I received yesterday wasn't quite as awful as the one on Snopes.  One or two of the more egregious racist, homophobic, and xenophobic sentiments within it were removed.  Still, the forward I got yesterday was pretty much the same rubbish email that Rooney himself stated several times that he did not write.  He did write a piece about the French that may have been somewhat controversial, but it doesn't come close to the crass factor of the email Rooney has been wrongly attributed to writing about his so-called political beliefs.

I could sit here and dissect that email forward for its very hateful messages.  Instead, I'm just going to make a comment to the people who actually know me and follow this blog (or the other two).  First of all, I am not a political conservative.  I don't agree with a lot of conservative views.  I am probably more of a centrist than anything else.  While I am generally not a fan of political correctness being forced down people's throats and I place a high value on the freedom of expression, I also appreciate civility and empathy.  I try really hard not to be cruel to people, even when I feel angry enough to be cruel.  While I would never say that I'm a bleeding heart liberal, neither am I a crusty conservative.  And I would never align myself with the attitude presented in the email forward I received last night.

What really surprises me is that the people who forwarded that email to me are a couple of my favorite relatives.  They have always been good to me... probably even better to me than my own parents ever were.  They are genuinely kind to everyone.  I hesitate to send a negative response to them, even in a loving tone, because despite hating the constant forwarded emails, I do love them very much and don't want to offend them, even though they've offended me.  I respect them as my elders and as people who helped make me who I am.

At the same time, I'm a middle aged woman who has a voice and while I do love my family, I don't agree with the sentiments in the emails they keep forwarding to me.  Moreover, it saddens me that they apparently think I would either agree with or appreciate the emails.  That tells me that they don't know me very well anymore.  Either that, or I've just become another name on their contact list and they're just mindlessly sending this bullshit to everyone, much like a mushroom sheds its spores (and some of you know how I feel about mushrooms).

Part of me thinks it's easiest to just ignore and delete the emails.  Another part of me feels like I should say something about them.  I'm torn between not wanting to upset people and feeling like I need to call bullshit.  I wonder if it's worth the hassle and if my saying anything would change anything.  It's not that I don't want to hear from my family members.  It's just that 99.9% of the forwards, even if they aren't hateful and racist, are just plain useless and/or stupid.

I have heard people say that when you get a forwarded email from someone, you should take it as a sign they were thinking of you.  If that's true, how am I supposed to take it when I get an email that really doesn't connect with my beliefs or world view at all?  And it's not even something my relative wrote from the heart-- it's ripped off crap written by some anonymous identity thieving hack.  If I had received an original email from a family member that contained the same sentiments in the so-called Andy Rooney hack job, I probably still wouldn't appreciate it much.  But at least I'd know the email was somewhat original and written for me.  I would at least have a sign that the family member was communicating with me personally and not just poking me with rehashed crap that has already been spread to the masses.  What the hell is the point of forwarding shit that has been forwarded ad nauseam for over a decade and identified as not being authentic?

I realize that a lot of the people who are forwarding this stuff are getting up in years and maybe lack sophistication when it comes to using the Internet.  Actually, in the case of the couple who sent me last night's forward, I know that's not true.  My aunt was using the Internet before I was.  But, say, if it came from my mom (and it wouldn't because she wouldn't send this kind of crap), maybe I could excuse it.  My mom doesn't know shit about the Internet and actually has her daughters do the research for her when she needs something from online.  She flat out refuses to learn how to use the Internet.  I think maybe she's the smartest one of all my relatives.

There was a time when I was a more offensive person than I am now.  I have tried to move beyond being that person and am trying to be more thoughtful toward others.  I don't want to offend my relatives by asking them to cease and desist, but yet they think nothing of offending me by sending me their political bullshit.  It's definitely an interesting turn of events.

Anyway... I'm not sure what I'm going to do about this, other than rant about it in my blog.  I should probably make a filter and have all of that crap immediately sent to the round file.  Or maybe I'll get annoyed enough to make my own forwarded email asking people to knock it off.  Or maybe I'll just go down to the kitchen and make an eclair cake.  We'll see.

2 comments:

  1. I'm a centrist, too! I'm fairly liberal about abortion, gun control, sexual identity, and other "personal freedom" issues. On the other hand, I'm for a strong national defense and a robust (but carefully thought-out) approach to foreign policy. So, like you, I'm a middle-of-the-road person when it comes to politics.

    A filter is possibly the way to go when it comes to this sort of email. Although....that eclair cake sounds yummy!

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