Unapologetic progressive. Fearless activist. Plucky liberal.

I like reading a funny e-mail as much as the next person, but I think 80 percent of e-mails that get passed around are junk. Many are chain letters that promise something exciting will happen if you forward the message to 10 people; these are, of course, lies. Others take aim at specific groups of people. I tend to delete junk forwards without looking at them, but in the past couple of years I have replied to three e-mails, all sent from relatives, that attacked Muslims and immigrants. The most recent one was about a supposed Muslim stamp that President Obama introduced. I exchanged a couple of messages with the sender, then checked out Snopes.com and found out the whole thing was false. No response when I pointed this out to the sender.

Even if your message is funny, I’m less likely to look at it if you send me five or six messages a day. Same with Facebook posts. Even if I’m interested in the topic, I’m going to scroll on by because reading everything takes too much time. I’m much more likely to pay attention if you post or e-mail once a day.

Petitions are another thing I think there should be limits on forwarding. I sign one or two per day, probably, but then I post them on Twitter or mention them on the blog. I don’t necessarily think my whole contact list will be interested in the same causes I am.

One of the reasons I started this blog with Rick is because I don’t feel comfortable sharing all of my political opinions on Facebook. I’m not ashamed of them, and I do make occasional posts that are political, but in general I don’t think a personal Facebook page is the proper outlet for passionate interests, whatever they are. I’m more interested in what and how you’re doing personally than a story I could find myself on CNN.com.

So here are a few general guidelines for today’s digital age:

1. Think twice before passing along an e-mail that targets a specific group of people (Muslims, Christians, men, women, the mentally ill, etc). You’re likely to make yourself look racist or sexist to at least one person. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and don’t send it.

2. Check Snopes for urban legends before passing along a message. Just because you get it in an e-mail doesn’t mean it’s true.

3. Keep in mind not everyone has a chance to constantly monitor her e-mail. Try to be considerate by passing along or posting one or two things a day instead of five or six, which can quickly clutter inboxes.

Are there any digital habits you wish people would rethink?

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Comments on: "Etiquette for the digital era" (8)

  1. Very important and thought-provoking post, Molly. Having been the recipient of offensive emails from relatives myself, I can certainly relate. Two of my best friends are Muslim and I trust them more than many self-proclaimed Christians.

    • What was especially offensive about a couple of the e-mails I’ve gotten is they act as if one group of people (Muslims, immigrants) is responsible for everything that’s wrong with the country today. It’s just not that simple. We’re all responsible.

  2. Uncle Dave said:

    Well said, Molly !
    I, too, have sent too many e-mails the same day;
    I will be more careful in the future.
    I am very glad you did not apoligize for your political position;
    You have very much to say that is of value and of wisdom.

    • Thanks for the compliment, Uncle Dave! That means a lot coming from you. I should have added a disclaimer to the post saying it wasn’t directed at any one person, but my observations after interactions with many people. I usually find your e-mails very entertaining. :)

  3. danielkjenkins said:

    The method behind the madness:

    A right winger sends an email claiming(whatever), the claim is proven false. Repeat this action 5-10 more times with different false claims. Point out that where there is smoke there is fire.

    The method seems to work fairly well, a lot of people fall for the trick.

    • What’s incredible these days is even after being proven wrong, many conservatives won’t admit it or will double down on their original point. They just don’t care about the truth.

  4. Such a well written post.. Thnkx for sharing this post!

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