Small Town Blogging

My take on things

Embracing Ignorance

The other day I was treated to one of those inane chain emails that people send out that include an attachment you must open to find several layers of nested forward emails within it. By the time I got down to the actual email body I’d opened about 3 nested forwards – each layer heavily checked by my virus scanners, of course. Eventually I made it down to the nugget of knowledge being passed on entitled ‘“The definition of Rotten” Personified‘.

It was an article claiming that Hillary Clinton refused to meet with ‘The Gold Star Mothers’. They are a group of mothers who have had son’s lost in combat during war going on in the Middle East. The email claimed that the only D.C. politician to refuse to meet with them was Hillary. But to make the subject a hot button topic the email goes on to claim that Hillary refused multiple attempts and uses other slanderous and suggestive comments to paint the woman as a real boil on the ass of the American people.

Generally, if you hear about something through forwarded emails you can pretty much guarantee that its false. Thankfully us common people have a few places to go where we can find out if something is true or not. I prefer http://www.snopes.com myself and point it out often to people that are taken in by these emails. Sure enough, Snopes reveals that the whole thing is a lie.

After shaking my head at how irresponsible people are in passing along false knowledge I noticed that there were quite a few emails addresses that were part of the ‘forward to all’ – over 150! It occurred to me that if there was any time to reach out to so many people and attempt to inform them of the power of Snopes then now was it. There are simply too many people that accept these emails as factual and it really bugs me that individuals will pass these things on thinking they are doing everyone a favor by ‘keeping them informed’. Topics from Mars to tic removal to Coke a Cola ‘facts’ have crossed my computer screen and all of them have been false. In the case of the tic removal, it was not only false, but potentially harmful information being passed on. One might suggest that political slander is a common thing to be ignored, but simply looking at the current presidential administration is enough to make anyone shudder at where complacency in what people tell us gets us.

Thus armed with my truth and facts I slipped off an email to all the email addresses on the list in my mission to educate the masses :

Hello Everybody

This email is in response to an forwarded email I recently received. I have a pet peeve about forwarded emails of this “Did you know?!” type of nature where some earth shattering bit of advice or gossip is passed along to everyone. They are often finished up with a “send this to at least x number of people to “get the ball rolling”/”avoid some bad thing”. You know the type I’m referring to right?

Nearly all of these kinds of emails are blatantly false in their information and many times they are quite dangerous. I would urge people to first look into the validity of the claims made in these things before sending them on. Before passing something on you should really check out the on-line site www.snopes.com to see if what you are passing on is true or not.Take the message that I received today about Hillary Clinton. It claimed that Gold Star Mothers (G.S.M.) attempted to meet with Hillary about their concerns with elected representatives but she refused to meet with them. Reading the email it was quite plain it was set up as a political statement. Fine. Everyone wants to keep each other abreast of what our political leaders are up to. Except, the incident was fabricated.

Going to snopes.com I simply entered “Hillary Clinton” into their search box and the 2nd listing was about Hillary and Gold Star. It plainly explains the truth about this email rumor and other variations of it.

This email happened to be about Hillary but I often get a wide range of forwarded subjects from Mars to tics to Coke-a-Cola that are absolutely false. It really annoys me that people are so irresponsible in the information that they pass forward. Knowledge is power and unless you are TRYING to be deceiving then passing this stuff on helps no one.

I’m emailing everyone in the email list I received that was listed in the “forward” and “carbon copy” section to help get this message out and often do respond to people that pass on false information in this manner.

Thank you for your time.

Confident that I had not written anything that could be considered offensive but accepting it might be slightly embarrassing for the original sender (which I must admit a slight intent of since I had emailed this person a few times in the past on subjects such as this to no effect) I went about my life hopeful that at least some of these people would benefit and not take everything at face value. But then intentional ignorance reared its ugly head.

It really amazes me the lengths that some people will go to maintain the shell of their own little ignorant world. The next day I received this lovely in my email box :

Since I don’t know who you are, I don’t appreciate you e-mailing me. What I receive in my e-mail, I take with the humor or the intent it was sent. It is like the newspaper – do you believe everything you read in the newspaper? I know that I am an intelligent person and I don’t. I had read the article about Hilary, so this was not a big deal. If you wanted to reply to the person that sent you the e-mail that is your business, but don’t make it mine! -P M (Name altered to Initial by me)

To say I was a bit taken aback would be mild. I was chastised by this person even when they specifically say “What I receive … I take with … the intent it was sent”. Wasn’t my ‘intent’ to be helpful and enlightening? Apparently P doesn’t want to be enlightened and I strongly suspect P is a Hillary hater and didn’t like the fact that I ruined one of their fantasies. But those few lines was so full of self righteous ignorance that I had plenty to work with in my response. Sure, I could have let it go at this, but frankly I’m tired of these mindless morons strutting around like they own the world. It’s time they get taken down a peg or three. My response :

Dear P M

I’d like to take a moment to respond to your correspondence and point out a few glaring ironies and inaccuracies. You first open up with “Since I don’t know who you are, I don’t appreciate you e-mailing me.” Going by your standard, I have to point out that I don’t know who you are either and it seems hypocritical of you to be directly emailing me. Any email you received from me was not through any intention of mine to hunt you down or seek you out. I merely did a simple “Reply All” in an effort to correct a wrong that was perpetrated upon a large group of people (i.e.. the passing along of false information). I also did not develop my message to communicate directly to you on a personal level. I responded to the group as a whole in the same manner in which the original email was sent – I was spreading knowledge and information and enlightening the many of you that had been duped.

Your second comment is equally puzzling as you say “What I receive in my e-mail, I take with humor or the intent that it was sent.” however you deny the intent behind the message I transmitted, which was to correct any misunderstandings or false knowledge that was spread by the original sender. One wonders why someone would be offended that a misconception was cleared up for them. If you are offended that the knowledge I presented to you was already known then I must wonder why it is that you yourself did not attempt to correct this wrong? If it was simply a matter of apathy on your part to correct the sender then I have to wonder why you would bother to engage me in such an aggressive manner for doing so?

Next you say “It is like the newspaper – do you believe everything you read in the newspaper?”. Obviously I do not simply believe everything I read at face value as most people like to spin a story to fit their particular way of thinking, politics, or religious inclinations. However the news service’s often claim that they are unbiased and support their stories with sources. Should it not be the responsibility of the reader to force those reporting the news to maintain a higher standard of truth? Or are you simply happy with what you read so long as the slant matches your perceptions? Unfortunately in the real world our news services are biased and it is because of this condition that I felt it important to point out the obvious fallacy of the “Hillary Clinton” article. I personally prefer to make my “informed” decisions based on truth rather than false legends or political statements. Of course some people will ignore all truth in order to “tow the party line” but I find such non thinking standards a pall upon the American people.

I always find it humorous that people will claim their intelligence, but at the same time do so in spectacularly bad grammar – “I know that I am an intelligent person and I don’t” Thank you for the chuckle. But my intent was not to insinuate that anyone reading the article was non-intelligent. Again, my intent was motivated to set right a wrong. Even smart people can be misinformed.

“I had read the article about Hilary, so this was not a big deal.” I cannot discern from your statement here that the article you read was the fictitious one or the truthful one. If you had indeed read the truthful article then I wonder why you did not take it upon yourself to point out the fallacy of the fictional email and why you would be annoyed that I would point this out to everyone. I’m tempted to believe that you have some personal animosity against Hillary Clinton and relished the idea of “bad press” against her. Personally I’m still gathering knowledge of each of the possible future presidential candidates and find political mud slinging tiring.

Finally, you wonder “If you wanted to reply to the person that sent you the e-mail that is your business, but don’t make it mine!”. I’ve actually contacted the person that emailed me several times in the past for similar emails with no luck so thought I would take a more direct approach. After seeing how many people were being misled by this knowledge I was firm in my resolve to correct this obvious lie. I am sorry that you have taken such an offense for being enlightened. As for not making it your business, you made sure of that by taking a personal stance and emailing me in a directly confrontational manner. Hopefully I’ve cleared up for you why you received an email.

If you wish to continue this discussion then I look forward to hearing back from you and I can even include your email on my own personal email list in which I and my friends often discuss many things that people erroneously believe. If I do not hear from you then I will assume that all of your questions have been answered and you no longer wish to correspond with me.

In any event, I thank you again for your time.

So far no response back. Maybe its over, time will tell. One thing is sure, I’ll hold my ground. Perhaps someone will get a clue and let the original subject sender know that I don’t like receiving this kind of stuff and they’ll either be more responsible in their emails (we can always hope) or they’ll take me of their list. Sure I could just delete these kinds of emails (which I have actually done much of) but frankly why should I? Isn’t it time that more people begin transferring information a bit more responsibly?

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January 19, 2007 - Posted by | Discussion, People

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