So, a friend sends me and a bunch of other acquaintances an email today. It warns of a potential threat surrounding the apparent recent purchase of $32,000 worth of UPS uniforms on EBay. I, of course, scrape snopes.com and find the relevant hoax listing.
And I try to do the right thing, I really do! I send this info back to the list.
Yes the entire list.
I just hit the Reply To All(“spam”) button, what’s wrong with that?
First off, it made my friend uncomfortable (Sorry man…). It makes him look, shall I say, “less informed” than he really is. It makes him look careless, and it comes off as condescending. This is a bud, remember? Simple courtesy should have kicked in. It would have been just as simple (and a whole lot less presumptuous) to have let him send the notice to his list.
To top it off, there were extended contacts on that list, including business contacts, family, etc. (to be honest, not the best move on his part: I would have made separate lists…) So when I make him look bad, I also make him look bad in front of business people. His network. (And while most people were grateful, some of these folks didn’t take my reply so well. With all the paranoia and fear post September 11th, some people feel like topics of terrorism should be treated with respect regardless of the source, not glossed over, and used to keep people vigilant. Let’s just say I disagree with the regardless part, and leave it at that.)
But while I’d love to have posted this as a cautionary tale on the “evils” of Internet hoaxes, I’m left with the dry-mouth realization that this is more a cautionary tale of net-etiquette, and how thinking before you send is really the best defense against any of the ills we run across. Had I been a wee bit less eager to squash another instance (among my friends) of net-“ignorance” and taken less “pride” in flushing out yet another hoax, I might have realized my blunder.
And finally, it’s an apology and a realization that despite the best intentions, or efforts, even someone who should KNOW better, can run afoul of this tendency to submit to immediate gratification. It’s just plain RUDE, man.
Watch what you post or send. Think about your audience. Be polite! Remember your friends.