Not one of those who steals your email off your website or a message board and bombards you with offers of cheap Viagra… I'm talking about people who you have one simple exchange with over email, and then you find yourself suddenly added to a list of about 90 "close friends" in her address book. The kind of friends to whom she routinely forwards every joke, urban legend, puppy photo, inspiring Bible passage or Christian preaching that happens to land in her inbox.
I'm normally very nonconfrontational. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. So for five or six months, I simply deleted the 500 or so "FW: FW: this is so cute!!!" subject lines from this individual and assumed she was well-meaning and harmless.
Then I randomly opened one of her emails and was kind of horrified that it was being mindlessly forwarded by people who evidently see the word "God" and think it's a nice sentiment to pass along.
I'm paraphrasing, but it said (in loud, magenta, 36-point, sans-serif type):
You suck if you:
- Are an immigrant, the child of an immigrant, or have ever spoken a language other than English!
- Say "Season's Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas!" Everyone knows Christmas is the "real" holiday this time of year, and if you don't believe in Jesus you're retarded!
- Don't want organized prayer in public schools! If you don't like God, you should go find another country to go live in! (Sadly, that last line wasn't paraphrased.)
- Are offended by this email! Because that means you're one of THEM!
It went on and on, spewing intolerance and ignorance to the point where it felt like even the other spam in my inbox was kind of staring at its feet and exchanging embarrassed glances.
Feeling that perhaps this had crossed the line from "well-meaning and harmless" to "offensive and unacceptable," I replied to the spammer, expressed my disappointment in her decision to forward such a hate-filled email, and requested that she remove me from her address book.
Five minutes later, I received two more "FW: FW: this is so cute!!!" subject lines.
I drafted a new reply. "Seriously," I said. "Please do not send me any more crap. Please. I really mean it."
"FINE!!!" came her reply. "You're not getting anything else from me!!! Don't reply to this email!!!"
"Reply," I replied. I like that I amuse myself.