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Thursday, August 9, 2012

You Got Your Politics in My E-mail!


          In a series of forwarded e-mail from someone I would barely call an acquaintance, I was recently told that I am essentially a bad Christian and/or Catholic if I vote for Barack Obama in November. One e-mail extolled the virtues of the Catholic church. It’s sheer size seemed important to the author, which seemed to equate to a certain rightness in being a Catholic. I was then urged to pass the message of “replacing our present president” on to “all of my Catholic friends.”

          While the identity of the forwarding fool no doubt irked me as much as the message – a classic example of those proclaiming righteousness the loudest while displaying no actual sign of it in their life – something else bothered me about receiving these messages.

          The more I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that these messages were nothing short of an invasion of privacy. They are a violation of personal space. They literally come right into my home.

          Most people will tell me to just hit the “delete” button and ignore it. Yet, due to the subject line, even that solution allows the basic message to register with the recipient. In my experience, blocking a person’s address is problematic as I inevitability hear about other e-mails that I’ve missed when using that option. Taking the person out my contacts at least filters the message to another folder aptly named “Junk,” but the problem of deleting the message persists.

          Perhaps it’s petty of me to suggest that I just damn well don’t want to have to delete someone else’s politics, but I don’t. E-mail is my primary source of communication with most of my family and friends. Hearing the “ding” that comes from my personal e-mail account is akin to most people’s cell phone ringing. I even have a separate account and e-mail program for my blogs, shopping online, and other activities that people should expect will bring unwanted messages.

          But regardless of my personal heavy use of e-mail, we should all have a right not to be accosted by political propaganda, racism, and religious blather, in our personal space.

          Sure, we’ve all been guilty of forwarding the occasional e-mail to a few too many people. But the political climate has changed in the last six years. The tone is incessantly angry, personal, and charged with the aforementioned subjects of race and religion. To forward your views to every address in your contacts is simply ignorant.

          I finally responded to one of the many messages simply stating that I voted for the president and would be doing so again. The message should have been clear: stop sending me your opinions.

          Instead I received another forwarded message with the same type of propaganda as well as a reply stating that the individual was “sorry to hear” of my voting choice. I voiced my utter shock at his surprise, and offered a more direct request for him to spare me what was often his racist babble. This also failed to stop the e-mails.

          Another, more direct response of “lose my address” to more propaganda – after trying to simply delete yet another e-mail – didn’t do the trick, either. I received a reply stating that this person would “still pray for me.”

          One of my biggest shortcomings is that I don’t generally react very well to this type of thing. I had already replied rather calmly three times (and somewhat politely, at least the first time). In fact, I think I maintained some decorum in all three requests to stop receiving the e-mails – I at least hadn’t ripped into the guy.

          The need for a fourth response . . . well, I could have told anyone that wasn’t going to go well. I may have suggested that the sanctimonious asshole save his prayers for himself. It took the deletion of yet another response from him and a threat to file a harassment complaint – and a few other things we won’t discuss that were in my fifth response – to stop the e-mails (so far).

          Admittedly, this is where I’m always questioning whether or not my experience is the same as what others would have experienced. I don’t know if the sanctimonious one would have offered prayers to an able-bodied responder. Certainly, people with disabilities aren’t the only ones who experience patronizing behavior, though I’m guessing we’re more familiar with it than most. Interestingly, in my experience it often comes from those claiming religion as a guide for their actions. However, in this case, I’m guessing my disability had little to no impact.

          Post your politics on Facebook. Tweet them for all the world to see. Even blog about them, as I have on occasion, ‘til your heart’s content. It’s your right as an American citizen.

          That’s your space. I can choose to “friend” you or not, hide you from my “news feed” or not, and follow you on Twitter or not. I can choose whether or not to check out your blog and absorb all of the political genius you have to offer. You can even e-mail your actual friends or acquaintances who agree with you or enjoy debating politics with you.

          Just keep your damn politics out of my inbox and the inbox of every friend, acquaintance, or flat out stranger, who was unfortunate enough to have you come across their e-mail address.

          Because unlike the commercials that showed the accidental mixing of chocolate and peanut butter that turned into a delicious Reese’s peanut butter cup from years ago, unwanted political messages aren’t so tasty.



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