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Email IdiocyPosted Saturday, May 17, 2008, at 8:48 AM
Before I head out to mow on this beautiful sunny Missouri morning, I have to get something off my chest. I will try mightily to keep myself under control...but last night I received some of the most stupendously stupid emails yet known to man, so while my grass dries, I'll enlighten you - for what it's worth.
The Statesman web poll was, I thought, highly informational this week: How do you spend most of your time on the Internet? (Or some such variation..) As of today, Saturday, May 17, 2008, 133 people have responded, and here are the results: Email - 45.9%; websurfing - 22.6%; education - 4.5%; online chatting - 4.5%; online shopping - 3.0%; online games - 6.8%; something else - 12.0%
Some of us have probably suspected that the "education" part of the internet would be so low, but that doesn't keep us from being disappointed. Reality is often disappointing, isn't it?
As for the "online games," I can attest to the massive waste of time that a certain virtual reality game has on my oldest brother, who works nights and spends most of the day caught up in the web of interactive gaming...
However, the prevalence of email is no surprise to me or anyone else. That is rapidly becoming the mode of communication for many of us. Frankly, I love it. I find it most helpful. As our community library board secretary, I love the fact that I can email the minutes of our meetings, and all nine members of the board can get this information - along with notices of meetings and all sorts of necessary information. I only wish our senior citizen board were the same, but, it's encouraging that five out of nine are email literate. Age, of course, is no excuse, as the oldest member of our board (93) is a computer whiz!
That said, here's the issue: There are entirely too many people who have too much time and too little sense to judge what sort of email they should be sending to their friends/acquaintances/enemies/perfect strangers!
My top email pet peeves are as follows:
1) "Angel" and twinkling prayer emails which you have to send to everybody on your mailing list within 5 minutes - or you're a very uncaring, BAD person.
2) Christian emails which baldly state that if you don't send this email to all your friends, it means that you are ashamed of Jesus.
3) Frivolous emails with graphics or enormous photos, which lock up my dial-up system for 30 minutes or more while they download. Example: my cousin Beverley sending me a silly "trailer trash" email which has 7 photos of very upscale travel trailers with room to carry a sports car in the baggage section. (And I'm supposed to care about this --- why???)
4) And, most insidious of all: False, inflamatory, bigoted and very mean-spirited emails intended to spread the worst kind of falsehoods! These emails are usually sent to long, long lists of recipients, in the misguided idea that the sender is doing a "service" to all his/her acquaintances.
Yes, I received one last night from ....well, no need to go into that...but it was most disappointing.
These false emails always sound SO CONVINCING, giving all sorts of concrete details, which turn out to be absolutely false. And, how can you FIND OUT IF THE EMAILS ARE FALSE?? Very simple. You minimize your email screen, click on your internet browser, and type "www.snopes.com" into the little box at the top!
In this case, I scrolled down the topics, clicked on "Politics," and then clicked on "Barack Obama." The list of rumored emails was extensive. I scrolled down the list and found "connections to Kenya." I clicked on the highlighted word, and it led me to an exact copy of the text which my acquaintance had sent me - exact, word for word. And there it was --- "FALSE." I read through all the details, which set the record straight.
Looking back over that slanderous email which was sent to me, I counted the number of others who had received the same email. There were 53 on the original email and 21 on the one sent to me. Some of the names on the original email would be quite familiar to you...
How many of those 74 people do you think checked the truth of the email before sending it on?
When we were back in school, we played a game called "Gossip." We sat in a circle and whispered something to the person next to us. They whispered it to the person next to them...and it continued around the circle. When the statement completed the circle, (you know the answer, because you've played it too, haven't you?) the statement was nothing like the original "gossip."
Whether we're in an election year or not, we need to keep ourselves informed as best we can. When we get these outlandish emails, let's check them out before we pass them on. Rumor is a terrible beast, and technology can give that beast an enormous amount of power.
It's going to take an entire day of mowing outside in the sun - feeling the fresh air on my face - watching my dogs chase each other in the sunshine - for me to get the bad taste of internet ugliness out of my system....
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.