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Friday, September 24, 2010

Agree or Delete

Not the most American concept, but how many times have you seen it (it was especially funny on the Obama is a dictator one)? But we've heard it before. If you disagree with the Iraq invasion (or don't love the job Bush did or fill in the blank), you can pack up and move elsewhere.

You see this in your inbox a few hundred times a year. Maybe you've even sent one in your lifetime. They are a challenge in more ways than one, at least for me.

I think it is a little much to ask and maybe unfair- agree or delete. You get to give me a (second hand) dissertation on some political topic or problem with our society and I have to delete it if I don't like it or don't agree? I agree that this is probably wise, since me saying anything, as enlightening as it may be, is just going to get under your skin and cause a problem between us (supposedly I know you and this matters if I am on your mailing list). This may be going out on a limb, but you should care what I think if I am on your mailing list; I care what you think. I may not agree, but I care.

You did send it right to my inbox, so some thought does go into that- or it should. I don't think you should email something to someone you wouldn't say to their face. If we said agree or shut up a the end of any talk or comments we gave in real life, I suspect we'd have an epidemic of broken noses or worse in the country. :) I don't think I'd ever have the guts to say it to anyone- not just because I don't believe in the concept.

The fact that it comes to my inbox from someone I see in the real world is to me like you sent me a personal note or did say it to my face. I probably shouldn't take a mass email that way, but that's the measure by which I send or forward email, so I expect others to think the way I do. I know I shouldn't. That's bad form on my part, a generalization.

Maybe if "agree or delete" didn't appear, I wouldn't feel so compelled to reply... No, if it's an urban legend or just so wrong I'm probably going to want to reply to set the record straight. I should reply, after all. It was addressed to me. Isn't silence complicity or agreement? Isn't that the point of agree or delete? To eliminate opposition and lay claim on" right" even in the face of the facts?

Every time I get one, I struggle between the wisdom of deleting and the meaning behind deleting it. Maybe I can reply, but keep it short and as free of snark as I can. Maybe that's not wise, either. But is having people going around thinking you agree with all of this nonsense floating in cyberspace wise? It borders on a lie. That's not who I am.

Or perhaps this is more of an email ettiquette problem- saying (aggressive) things online that you wouldn't say in person, etc- rather than one of silencing dissent or lack of civility in our culture or whatever else...

I give up for now. Problem not solved.

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