It started almost immediately. It was the mid-1990’s and I signed up with a local Internet Service Provider (Prolog, remember them?) and got myself online. I shared my email with friends and families… the few who knew what email was… and after the crashing sounds of the modem connecting, emails would start piling into Eudora, my old email client. The emails that would crowd my inbox then, just as now, tended to be jokes, silly cartoons, political commentary, old wives tales, or chain emails.

And let me tell you, I’ve been on the ‘net long enough that I have read almost every single joke and I’ve seen every silly cartoon or photograph.

For the longest of time I treated it like SPAM. I’d hightlight it and click the delete button. GONE! ZAP!

I don’t know when I had the epiphany but at some point I realized that… hey, this person is reaching out to me! Yeah, I’ve seen the joke before but this was their first time and I should be more kind. So I changed my ways. Now when I get an email, whether it is a joke or a chain email or whatever, I RESPOND. If only to just write, “Thanks for thinking of me” or “What a hoot!” or “I don’t participate in email chains but thanks for including me anyway!”

What I found is people send me less garbage! They know I am going to respond and they don’t want to bother me with stupid stuff. Plus, the chain emails have stopped almost entirely. I rarely get them anymore. Maybe because I’ve let people know I don’t participate OR they are suddenly wising up to the stupidity of it.

I’ve always lived my life by the motto, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” And because of this, it’s important to conduct yourself in cyberspace as you would in meatspace. Imagine if a person came up to you and told you a silly joke. You wouldn’t just walk away, would you? Of course not! So respond! Let them know you are happy to have been included. Let them know you found it interesting. And watch what happens!

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