I used to have employees. Until about three and a half years ago. That’s all you really need to know for me to tell this story. I still receive emails sent to their old addresses. I have them filtered to a separate folder, and scan them periodically to make sure nothing important has been sent by a client. It’s pretty rare anymore that something does, and I can probably eliminate the addresses. One of my former employees (let’s call her Janice) still gets personal email, however: renewal notices from the library, prescription pick-up reminders from Walgreen’s, and messages from someone I presumed to be a family member (let’s call her Agnes – and she turned out to be an aunt). In the beginning I sent things along and/or responded that Janice was no longer using that email address. Then I stopped and just deleted things.
Aunt Agnes continued sending things to Janice. Generally, forwards to groups of people. Mostly I ignored them. A few weeks ago I read one. I don’t know why. It was about a store in a mall in Texas that is run by Muslims, and that it was going to be closed on September 11 supposedly in honor of one of the pilots who flew into the Twin Towers. It was so bizarre that I had to investigate, so off I headed to Snopes, my favorite internet myth-busting site. It was, naturally, a ridiculous misunderstanding and gross misrepresentation of the facts.
I despise stuff like this. People are too lazy to verify things before they forward them, and generally these stories are based on fear and ignorance and do nothing but harm. They get people fired up by playing on prejudice and perpetuate total bullshit. If you read the Snopes article, the store’s proprietor faced ongoing backlash for something he didn’t even do. When friends and acquaintances send emails of this nature and post them on Facebook, I have no qualms about sharing the information I find to debunk the myth.
What to do.
I responded to Aunt Agnes with a brief note that Janice hadn’t been at that email address for more than three years. And that the story in the email wasn’t true after all, along with the link so she could read more. I figured that was the end of it.
The next morning I got a message from Aunt Agnes, sent to Janice’s email, but this time clearly for me. It was another forward, sent only to Janice/me, and it was about Snopes. How Snopes is funded by the left, and is in Obama’s pocket, and isn’t a reliable source, and it’s all a big conspiracy.
Hmm….again…what to do? I wasn’t looking to pick a fight. And obviously I couldn’t use Snopes to debunk her email, because Snopes lies. (eye roll)
Good thing I had urbanlegends.com to help me out! I responded with no commentary, just three links addressing the major points in her forward, including this one.
So far, so good….right? Maybe.
Her response to Janice/me was,
“I think the devil is working overtime and maybe the LORD is comming [sic] very soon!! So many people have turned their backs to GOD.”
Again, I wasn’t looking to pick a fight. I just like to get people to stop spreading emails filled with falsehoods, especially when they’re easily proven so. But now it was getting….personal. Pretty sure Aunt Agnes just called me a heathen. And here she’s never even met me. Usually people have to know me for at least a day or two before coming to that conclusion! Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I responded.
“If the devil is working overtime, it’s by spreading false propaganda in the name of fear. I see nothing godly in the messages you’re sending.”
And I stand by that. I can’t believe in a God who wants people to hate and fear and distrust each other simply because they are different. I won’t. And I will call you out on that at any opportunity.
Aunt Agnes wasn’t very happy, either. I can’t include “[sic]” every time I would need to, so just know that this is verbatim.
“What is Godly about snoopes?? I am a Christian FIRST! If a president or anyone running for office says they are for gay marriage, abortions,and He don`t even go to a church( as he himself said it would cause a problem), And, I have a video where he is giving a speach and told the muslems he is one also. That came from his mouth. Remember, his mother was white and his dad a muslem. He isn`t a black man. You surprise me by accusing me of propaganda.What messages are you talking about? Christians need to be very carefull who they vote for. I am independent and will vote for either party if they stick to not being for the top things I’ve already said. AND, I see nothing in the message you sent me that is very christian. I will make sure I don`t send you anything else.”
And then my head exploded. I truly can’t understand this mentality. You have your values and I have mine. Maybe they’re different. That’s fine. I want to respect you. But if your values are that everyone who disagrees with you is wrong and dangerous, you scare me. Because I am different. I’m a liberal Jew in Indiana. A woman who isn’t scared to identify as a feminist. Someone who doesn’t think socialism is a dirty word.* And there is no place for me in a world defined by people who think Christianity is the one and only measuring stick. Aunt Agnes doesn’t care what is true. She only cares about what is Christian. Which, ps, seems like a pretty vague definition to me.
So you see, I had to respond.
“You didn’t see anything in my messages that was Christian because I am NOT Christian. Snopes isn’t about being godly, it’s about being FACTUAL. All the messages you send are propaganda. You don’t care if they’re truthful, and the messages are about hating people who are different from you.”
I haven’t heard from Aunt Agnes since. I did, however, hear from Janice. She was not happy, to say the least. How dare I treat her aunt this way, just because we disagree? I should have simply deleted the messages. And some other fairly unpleasant things. Fine. I decided there was no point debating anything, and did a preemptive unfriending on Facebook to prevent residual nastiness.
Maybe I shouldn’t have responded. Maybe I should have just continued deleting the messages. Maybe I am a bitch. But at least I’m not a bigot.
*Please note, I am not a socialist. I just don’t get offended or worked up when people cry socialism.