I like to think that people are generally nice. I really do. At the end of the day, I believe in my heart that we all love our spouses, our kids, our parents, or at the very least our dog, and, as my friend Barack once said, the things that unite us are stronger than the things that divide us.
And before I begin my little tirade today, I want to preface it by saying I am not the world’s best e-mailer. I’m just not. I am generally nice, and the e-mails I send are generally nice as well, but I am delinquent in responding sometimes when my inbox creeps up around numbers similar to the national debt. I mean to get back to everyone in there, and I mean to do all the tasks related to those various e-mails, but sometimes I also want to do other things, like laundry, or cook a meal with appliances other than a microwave, or talk to the other humans in my house. Or talk to my dog, since I really love and adore my dog, which is funny to me, because I was never a dog person. And now I am. He “gets” me better than anyone, and licks my tears when I cry, and nudges me with his wet slobbery nose when I don’t pay enough attention to him, and wags his tail so hard he can knock over a bottle of wine when I am paying attention to him. He rocks. And if he sent me an e-mail, it would look like this: “Oh I love you I love you I love you rub my belly yes and behind my ears oh I love you I love you I love you YOU HAVE SALAMI!!!! I love you I love you I love you wag wag wag dogs rockespecially me you rock you are my favorite human you rock”. Dogs don’t need punctuation. They rock.
And then there are the people that don’t rock. They may or may not be nice, but are rotten e-mailers and texters, and they don’t have tails to wag or puppy dog eyes to make up for it. There are in the world the occasional nice people who just don’t have technology manners. I think they can be taught, maybe a workshop or a good you-tube tutorial called “Close, but a miss, try again”, and they’d be all “oh, gee, didn’t realize, I can fix that”, sort of like when someone has been wearing the wrong color jeans for too long because they just didn’t realize that fashion had said there was a new color you should be wearing. Those people can be fixed, and they’d be grateful for the fixing, and their virtual world will be improved and the mental health of our country will experience a tremendous upswing.
But there are the people that say mean things in an e-mail or text because they can hide behind their keyboard and don’t actually need to have the cojones to say anything to your face. They are often the kind of people that just don’t understand that they have done anything wrong, and have crossed the cyber line of etiquette. The kind of people who send a message that starts with “I’ve tried e-mailing you several times but you haven’t responded to anything I have sent you”. Yes, that is true, because once was Friday night, and once was Saturday morning, and once was Saturday night and once was Sunday morning, and on Friday nights we do pizza and movies for my family and end with a bottle of wine, and on Sundays we go to church where they have grape juice instead of wine but I like it there anyway, and then when you e-mail again on Monday wondering why I haven’t responded, it’s because I really just wanted to enjoy my weekend. And I keep the high road, because I’m nice. And if I was having a day where I didn’t feel nice, I’d at least have the ability to know what to say in person and not fly off the cyberspace handle. Manners are easy in-person and virtually – and guess what – they are pretty much the same thing in both places.
But the insanity and rudeness gets worse. I know for a fact that I’m not the only person that this has happened to – and I urge all of you who can relate to what I am saying here to stand up and say “YES! I object to insanity!” Technology should not be a vehicle for insanity. I refuse to accept the cyber world as a place for people to exhibit insanity and get away with it. Picture this: the kind of e-mail that continues on without any punctuation or capital letters and doesn’t stop for any sense of normalcy and is also so full of rage or anxiety or insanity that their e-mail just adds to the sense of emotionally decrepit wasteland that is also their brain and heart. And it reminds you of some text book lesson you had way back in high school psychology that explained how psychopaths write notes to their victims and what you can tell from their lack of grammar or their inability or unwillingness to use a period at the end of a sentence. It’s the kind of e-mail that is sent only to illicit a response from someone to cater to their electronic temper tantrum. This is really one of my least favorite kinds of e-mail, but unfortunately I’ve received more than my fair share, and I know many others who have experienced the same. I have a theory on this, which is that nice people attract a lot of crazy people around them. Sort of like honey and flies. Everyone likes honey. Including the flies that were just sitting on dog feces.
So here’s my wish and desire, and I hope that someone very smart and tech savvy can figure it out soon. We need a technology filter program. Here’s how I envision it. I download some fabulous app, maybe called “Cut it the F out” or “Not in my inbox” or “Keep your crazies to yourself” or something like that. The app applies itself to my laptop, my iPad, my iPhone, everything, and reads all my e-mails and texts before I get them. Sort of a politeness filter. If it has a nasty phrase like “You must be very busy and important because I haven’t heard from you”, then the filter app would change it to read “Hi! Hope you are recovering from that nasty bout of bronchitis! I can’t believe you broke a rib coughing! Let me know if I can drop off some soup – I make a great chicken noodle. Would also love to catch up with you on that little project I mentioned when you are feeling better. Maybe over a cup of tea?”. Now that is a proper e-mail. This magic filter app could also work when insane people who should be on medication send those messages without proper grammar, punctuation, or thought for any humans beside themselves. Maybe the basic package app for $1.99 could put in the capitalization and punctuation and some niceties (except for dogs, who don’t need punctuation, because they rock). Instead of “i cant believe you would b so full of yrself when you wldnt change youre plans when i needed you to focus on me and my life you alwys do this 2 me” it could say “Hey, I know you were planning to be out of town on vacation and you haven’t been away with just your husband and no kids since 2007, but I’m feeling really down right now and I could really use a little support and you are really one of the people I count on the most, so maybe we could make some time when you are back?” Again, proper e-mail, with passable grammar, somehow makes me pay better attention. But there are levels of insanity, and for those of us who have multiple insane people to deal with, or the kind of insane people that make you think you should investigate restraining orders, maybe we could upgrade to the $4.99 version of the “I don’t need your sh*t too” app, and it could scan the messages, determine the possibility of anything good coming from any interaction with the crazy person ever in the future, and if there’s little possibility of that happening because they’ve been hit with the crazy bat too many times, it could just forward the message directly to the proper medical board to have the individual committed, and delete it from the inbox at the same time. I’d pay five bucks for that. Probably much more, but from the state of mental health in our country, I bet we could make a bazillion dollars on this app just charging five bucks a person. And if we can make satellites launch into space to track people on the earth, can’t we get an e-mail filter to keep the space cadets in line? Or at least make people appear to be as nice as my dog? I’d rather have his dog slobber than the crazy people e-mails. How about you?