Lately, I’ve gotten pretty into the concept of being an Adult Child™. It’s a feeling you get when you realize that while you are an adult, you are also someone’s child, and in certain situations, all that matters is the child part. In this political climate, navigating the Adult Child™ waters has become more precarious than ever. My current Adult Child™ dilemma: how to respond to political emails from a relative.
Here’s my issue: During election season, an older relative of mine started forwarding some political emails to the whole family. (A little context: my family is huge, so the whole family is 100+ but there are about 50 of us on the email list.) These emails skewed heavily alt-right, were full of the aggressive Trump rhetoric, and were cluttering up my inbox. Also, these were the only emails this relative was sending.
After reading several of these emails, I responded to one saying that I would love to get email updates about their life, but could they please refrain from forwarding political emails to me? Something got lost in translation there, and my relative was offended bigly by my response. And the forwards kept coming. A few weeks ago I tried again, reminding my relative that I was interested in their life and would love to get email updates, but could they save the political emails for someone else? The answer came the next day: Seven political emails in one hour.
*I’m aware that this post will get me some familial backlash, but I have to believe this is an issue more of us Adult Children™ are facing, right? Please back me up in the comments.
So, if you find yourself asking “How do I respond to this political email from my relative,” weekly, monthly, or like me, seven times a day, you are not alone.
Here are the three options for how to respond to political emails from a relative that I’ve come up with:
Option 1: Ignore
This option has some real pros. For one, ignoring the emails means you don’t read them and get all riled up. Your day is peaceful, you aren’t reminded of the broad anti-science ignorance plaguing the country, and you get to move on and focus on your business. But that’s also the con. If the emails you get are anything like the ones I’m receiving, they represent views that are widely held and it’s important to know about them and be prepared. We have to at least be aware of what’s out there.
So, I tried the first option for a little while, and then I tried Option 2: Educate. This year I made a promise to myself to be louder because I don’t want my silence to make anyone think I agree with them.
Option 2: Educate
After my polite request to stop sending political emails was shut down, I moved on to the second option: educating them. For each email that came in, I took the time to research the subject and find a few articles with some counterpoints.
For example, I got an email about the new “America First Budget” calling out the 31% cut in funding for the EPA. Seeing as the research that is done by the EPA directly affects my relative and their water-front home, I was confused about their support for this budget cut. So I found a couple of articles about climate change and the sea-level rise and a presentation from a marine scientist in their city and sent the links along with my concern about the budget. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten any responses back, so I can’t speak to the effectiveness of option two.
Option 3: Annihilate
Option two maintains politeness and extends some courtesy to your relative. It’s based on the assumption that your relative loves you and you love them and you want to maintain some level of a family bond. Option three throws all that away. You are free to really let loose here and DESTROY that relative with your words and actions. Some things you could try for total annihilation: subscribing everyone listed on the original email to newsletters of your choosing, unsubscribing everyone on the email forward from several prominent alt-right newsletters, or replying-all to everyone your relative emailed with exactly what you are thinking about all this political bullshit. TBH, this blog post might be a bit option three-y, but this is all for you, dear readers. So when I get kicked out of the next family gathering, who has room for one more at Thanksgiving?
Someone, please tell me I’m not the only one getting bombarded by political emails from their relatives. Do you respond to political emails from a relative with one of these three options? Or, if you have any other suggestions, let me know in the comments.