Isn’t it strange the kinds of things that can set off an argument? It’s interesting because no two people are alike in the sense that what might turn one person into a lunatic complete with frothy spittle barely even registers on the consciousness of another.
Two days ago I received an email forward decrying the end of civilization as we know it at the hands of our federal government. Judging by the frequencies of these emails I calculate that civilization as we know it actually ended in 1956 and since that time we’ve all be living in a distopian hell a la George Miller; but I digress. There was nothing much special about this email forward; a little misinformation, a little paranoia, topped off with a dash of conspiracy theory. In short, it was a perfectly tame message that didn’t even call for investing in gold bars or jihad.
The only reason I mention it is because this harmless little forward set off quite the flame war that for all I know is still raging in some quiet corner of my inbox. Apparently the misinformation in this forward was quite easy to debunk and someone on the mailing list did so, while adding a touch disdain for the cable channel that allowed it to air in the first place. Apparently that disdain was enough to send folks into a downward spiral of indignation, indigestion, and spilled milk.
For two days the back and forth emails sparred and point after counterpoint was introduced, dismissed as heretical lunacy, snickered at, and mocked. Several people tried unsuccessfully to derail the conversation and steer it towards the safer subjects of sex, drugs, and rock and roll; all to no avail.
Eventually everyone’s spleen was properly vented, things calmed down, and everything returned to the seething xenophobia that we all normally feel towards “them.”
I suppose that if you are still reading this you’re wondering how this short tale is even remotely noteworthy. Well, this particular email list consisted almost entirely of extended family members! It’s true that most of these family members couldn’t pick each other out of a line up (I, for one, have gotten much handsomer in recent years), but the fact remains that nearly everyone who received these emails are related by blood or marriage (or both; we are talking about Western PA) and should, perhaps, have a greater respect and tolerance for each other’s opinions than is perhaps the norm. That this kind of conversation could happen was nothing short of scandalous.
I’m sure that at the next Haluski Cook Off people will still be talking about “that time yinz got all crazy about dem emails, n’at” and everyone will cringe and quickly change the subject to the best method to de-ice a car door when you’re late for work.
Just in case you accidentally get pulled into this kind of situation, I would like you to take a deep breath and play this.