Friday, June 20, 2008

The NEW Age of [Gossip] Forwarded Emails

I am going to commit to sending this post to each person that sends me a forwarded email attacking Muslims, Barack Hussein Obama, John Sidney McCain III, (Incidentally, isn't Sydney a girl's name? I can't vote for a candidate with a GIRL'S name!) the Golden Compass or pretty much what or whomever.

Maybe the most aggravating thing about these emails is that people send them and then think they are not responsible for the information contained therein because someone else authored it, and the sender is just relaying the message. I disagree with this assumption wholeheartedly. If you forward it, you should be responsible for the information.

If you disagree, please explain to me how sending an electronic lie is any different than spreading gossip about someone in your church, or about your neighbor? The shame of it all is, now we can gossip to dozens (yea, literally hundreds) of people all at once. Yet when the information proves false, no one is there to admit they were wrong. No one is there to apologize for the backbiting.

There have been times when reading forwarded emails from God knows whom caused my head to tremble. However, it is now a fact of life, and I must keep my sanity. So I take deep breaths and remind myself people are still free to be ignorant in this country if they so choose.

Currently the majority of said messages seem to be bashing liberals or Obama, but that is not even the (or even a) reason I oppose sending the messages to everyone in your address book.

I started opposing them after I actually determined to double-check the accuracy of the statements often made in the mass-mailings. Exhibit A: The owner of the Portland Trailblazers supposedly wrote a letter to a local newspaper defending the Latter-Day Saint faith. A quick check finds that it was a person with the same name, but in fact NOT the NBA ball club's owner.

Exhibit B: Jay Leno allegedly wrote a long email talking about how good we really have it in the United States, and that we should quit whining so much. Double-checking reveals that Leno never penned any of the words in the email.

In fact, you can find how the myth actually got started, and even though many of them are several years old, trust me, you will probably receive this one again. After all, only one grandfather, one auntie, one cousin, or sibling has forwarded them along. You have many more relatives who will still think it's the first time you've seen the message.

The accumulated effect on this individual is that every time I get a forwarded email, I tend to roll my eyes, gag with gastrointestinal contractions threatening dry-heaves, and clench my fists in a Kimbo Slice fit of rage.

Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little. However, as I have read email after email, especially those that besmirch the character of Barack Obama, Muslims, the Koran, or "liberals," I immediately want to respond, "why do you wish to endorse and perpetuate lies, hatred, stereotypes, and bigotry en masse?"

Now, I realize they do not mean it in that way. They just see it more as: Barack Obama scares me, so whatever information saying anything negative about him should be forwarded so I can scare others into not voting for him as well.

However the ultimate result is I, who originally would not even think of voting for Obama, am tempted more and more to do just that: support him. If you want to debate policy, and specific important issues, that is fine. If you think sending various unsubstantiated emails are grounds for being scared of a presidential candidate, or a religious group, then you need to rethink your mentality.

I recommend two excellent discourses on the matter: "Your Name Is Safe in Our Home" by Elder Cree-L Kofford, and also "Instruments of the Lord's Peace" by Elder Robert S. Wood.

I do not count myself perfect in this matter. I am sometimes guilty of bitter stereotyping and judmental thinking as well. However, these talks help me remember that passing on fear-inducing, sometimes hateful material about anyone, is not the way of raising the level of public discourse in an election year. No, the MSM do not help at all, but let's be adults - men and women - about the matter, and admit most of us are just better than that.

The next time you think about hitting the forward button, think about this: how many forwarded emails have been sent with lies about something you believed in strongly? How many lies about the LDS faith have been perpetuated to incite fear in those otherwise curious about the church? I hope we are not guilty of indirectly encouraging and fostering ill-will and suspicion toward non-offending parties because we failed to review the material and confirm its accuracy.

So please, if you're going to send out the emails, double-check your facts. Or you can expect to get a link to my website. Or at least be willing to call it what it really is: hurtful, despicable, gossip.

1 comment:

Brady said...

Awesome post Mike. I absolutely love I typically have to use it when I get a fwd from my family too. Usually a well meaning email too... about a vast (your-choice-here)-wing conspiracy to remove my 1st amendment rights. Snopes usually has the good stuff.