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March 15, 2010 Click here to mail this page to a friend.
Ignoring Clint Eastwood's advice in "Dirty Harry" that opinions, like certain body parts, are best kept to yourself.
A Dangerous Combo: Senior Citizens and eMail

The truth is, we're all to blame for today's e-mail woes. So, to create change in your inbox, start with yourself.Retired people have a lot of time on their hands, and using it has gotten creative. In the old days, we walked the dog, read the newspaper, watched television, and at Christmas time we sent out the annual brag letter to friends and relatives, bringing everyone up-to-date on what the family had been up to all year. On a real special occasion, pen and paper was taken in hand to write a letter to a friend. Enter the internet with that great side-benefit called email. All of a sudden, it's become an compulsion to contact all your friends and family members on at least a weekly, if not daily, basis. What is going on?

As a certified senior citizen myself, I'm more than guilty of sending too-darn many emails. Every time I get a really neat mail from a friend on a timely or completely silly subject, I feel an overwhelming urge to pass it on to everyone I know. On top of that, I promote articles of interest, at least to me, on my website at by mass-mailing the information to more people than I want to admit. Add to that, the time spent cruising the net looking at interesting stuff, and all of a sudden the day is gone and my "to-do list" around the house is still "to-do", that daily walk with the dog was missed, because now it is too dark out, and the tax return I promised I'd get to is still in the future.

My wife once suggested that I form a group called "Internet Anonymous", where I get together with a bunch of people with similar affliction and drink.

A huge percentage of ''fact'' emails are simply not true, some people get their jollys by spreading false stories. Learn how to check these out before forwarding them on.If it is any consolation to me, I'm not the only one with this problem. A lot of my friends, and some not so senior, can't resist the urge to send out all kinds of information, and political points of view seems to be the most popular. Any derogatory story circulating about the "other" party or candidate is sure to appear in the inbox, and lately it has become another task to check-out the facts on some of these.

A few months ago, I posted a link on my website, urging email forwarders to check stories out before blindly passing them on. It had little effect, and I'm still receiving mail alerting me to the the fact (not true) that illegal aliens collect social security, or that Bill Gates will pay me $50 to forward something to 50 of my friends.

A few years ago, I received an email from a fellow I'd known since college. I always considered him a friend, but looking back at it he was probably more what you would call an acquaintance. We'd bumped into each other now and then over the years, had lunch, been to each others homes. So, when I started getting email from him I took it in stride, but quickly became aware that all he was sending me were jokes, and they were pretty dumb. One day, he sent me a particularly long-winded one that went nowhere, with a terrible punchline, and I emailed back something like "wow... that was a long way to go for that joke..." He shot back with "Oh yeah? Well, don't send me anymore of your damn stuff ... " And I haven't since, nor has he. In fact, I haven't heard from him now in about 4 years. I'm kind of hoping he's dead, I wouldn't want to think I'd hurt his feelings.

So, what can I do about this? As for the incoming mails, I'll continue to debunk the ones that need it, and will force myself not to forward everything along. Would I run down the street to tell a friend about an article I read about how people in England are baffled by America's love of motorhomes? Probably not, but I might email the news to him, after resisting the urge for several seconds. And, starting tomorrow I'm going to get away from this computer long enough to go out and take the dog for a walk. I can't do it now, because it's too dark out.

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