Thursday, July 09, 2009

On being a nitpicker

Yesterday, I posted the contents of an email from a friend. He means well, but he sends me an awful lot of these things - warning of supposed scams. I always check them out to see what I can discover. Occasionally - as I did yesterday - I ask the question of this community if I am unable to get to the bottom of things using the resources I know about. This serves the dual purpose of resolving the question and alerting me to resources that can help when it comes to mythbusting.

Once yesterday's myth had been completely busted, I sent an email back to my friend and everyone else on his distribution list, sharing the reality behind the hoax. This is not the first time I have done this.

The response, to my surprise, was howls of derision. Why did I always do this? I take myself far too seriously, it seems. Poor old X, is it absolutely necessary for me to keep bursting his bubble? How unkind of me!

So, it is acceptable for X to forward an email to a hundred people warning them of some or other bogus scam without researching the facts, but it's not alright to check the facts and reassure people that the whole thing is nonsense. I'm sorry, but for me, that's too close to saying it's okay for kids to print out great wadges of stuff from the web without even reading it, and call it research.


Anonymous said...

It's not acceptable, in my opinion, to spam one's entire address book to send unverified warnings, alerts, petitions, or the like. I usually research the hoax, inform the sender with a polite request that he or she notify all the other recipients and not send me such messages in the future. When people continue to send junk and never send anything personal or important, I filter them.

The upsycho said...

@Anonymous We seem to be of like mind. I did try that avenue to begin with, but the sender ignored my requests. So I felt (perhaps wrongly) justified in starting to send out "as you were" messages where appropriate. I thought I was being helpful, but perhaps I was just tactless!

Matthew Bibby said...

I recently received an email about a business man who was drugged at an international bar and had organs removed from his body before being left to die in a bathtub.

A horrible story that warned of talking to strangers or drinking in a public place when OS . . . complete B.S., no recorded case of such a theft of organs anywhere in the world ever!!! (Looked the email up on

As the sender had included everyone's email address in the TO: bar (please people, BCC exists for a reason!), I emailed everyone uncovering the B.S. story.

I received three emails in return criticizing my actions.

It appears many of us no longer value truth.

The upsycho said...

@Matthew So it's not just me! ;o)

John Zurovchak said...

Cheers to you Karyn! I do the same thing every time someone sends me something that looks a bit fishy. I always visit the Internet hoax sites to see whether or not its true. I, too, send the explanation and the link back to the original sender. To date, I have only received thanks for the debunkings. Keep up the good work of seeking the truth!


Garry Platt said...

Keep nitpicking!

As a nit myself the occasional pick can be beneficial.

It also occured to me that this individual might be playing some sort of Transactional Analysis game, possibly ITHY: I'm Only Trying to Help You.

The upsycho said...

@John Thanks for the encouragement. To be honest, I'm not sure I could be different. For me, finding out the right answer has always been a primary consideration. I am reminded of a situation in high school, where we were being given relationship education (not just sex ed). The teacher was telling us how, as women, it was important sometimes just to let the man win a dispute, for the sake of peace. I asked, "Why not just look up the right answer in an encyclopaedia and settled it accurately?" Her answer - in front of the whole class - rings in my ears to this day, and still raises my hackles. "Yes, I also used to be a big mouth, and it cost me my first marriage." That was 30 years ago. I still opt for the 'look it up' solution as opposed to the 'let him win' solution, and I have been happily married to the same (brave) man for 21 years!

The upsycho said...

@Garry Ah. A long time since I did any TA in anger. Wow, you brought back a few memories!

I suppose it could be argued that I was the one who was doing the ITHY thing!