Friday, April 23, 2010

When Grandpa Spams You

Dear Jocelyn,
My grandfather likes emailing forwards: many are harmless (though still annoying because they're forwards), but some are blatant attempts to provoke fear and reinforce racial stereotypes with false information. Today I sent a "Reply All" to a false email for the 3rd time. I realize this game will get old, but it irks me to say nothing when he forwards trash to 20+ people. After the first, several relatives congratulated me, saying they've tried for years to teach my grandfather about the value of Snopes (a website that explains whether popular email forwards are true or false), and that it is now my generation's turn. I plan to continue to cry foul, since he will eventually either 1) check Snopes before forwarding, 2) get annoyed and exclude me from future forwards, or 3) continue. Options 1 or 2 would be a win for me, and I don't mind continuing to hit "Reply All" to reveal BS. What are some other ways I could handle this?
-Too Forward?

Dear Too Forward,
While I commend you for attempting to correct false stories spread through email, I agree with you that it will get old after a while. And let me ask you something - you said that your family has tried to tell him this before, and this is the 3rd email you have sent. I think at this point you are beating a dead horse, and you can consider him unteachable in this area. I think the most effective thing to do at this point is to send a polite reply (just to him!) and say something to the effect of:

"Grandpa, I don't like being sent emails that put down other races or religions. Please stop sending me any forwards."

And then if he continues, hit the delete button. You mentioned that it bothers you that he is forwarding these emails to 20+ people. Please realize these people have control over their own inbox. There are three likely scenarios: 1) They realize the emails are false and don't believe them, 2) They are inclined towards racism/fear-mongering, and will agree with the emails, or 3) They are naive and will believe anything that lands in their inbox. For that third type, you unfortunately can't protect them from every false piece of information that comes their way. Unless you want to go live with them and keep them from being conned into that piece of swampland in Florida they're being sold, I'd say leave it alone.


meghan said...

I think you may have left out a category of people who receive the emails - the ones who mark grandpa or forwards as spam and send them straight to junkmail without opening. That is the course of action I take with forwards from family members - regardless of thier content.

Jocelyn said...

Thank you for the suggestion, Meghan! That is, of course, more efficient than having to delete them as they arrive in the inbox.

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