DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 20-year-old college student. My grandmother sends me dozens of forwarded emails each week with information such as “watch out for new virus.”
I try to be respectful, and even spent some time last semester trying to reply to each email she sent, despite the fact that it was cutting into my other priorities, like school and sorority. However, it annoys me that she expects me to have the time to respond to her excessive emails.
A few months ago, a spam account got a hold of my email and address book and sent my contacts (including my grandmother) an email with a virus link. My grandmother clicked on the link (apparently all the Internet knowledge she sends to others didn’t teach her not to click on an unknown link), and I had to spend hours on the phone with her, helping her get rid of the virus.
I saw my grandmother a few weeks ago, and I could tell she wanted to make a rude comment about my not responding to her emails. I still think it’s absolutely ridiculous to respond to a forwarded email. Do you have any advice on forwarded emails?
GENTLE READER: You are under no obligation to reply to forwarded emails with no personal content. However, you are under an obligation to your grandmother.
But before you make Miss Manners responsible for your g.p.a., allow her to suggest a less time-consuming way of handling the situation. That would be to deal with the underlying problem, rather than the surface one.
It is not that your grandmother is dying to know what you think of the canned material she forwards. She just wants to hear from you. An occasional quick message, if it is only to say that you’re up studying for a chemistry exam and hope she is well and that her garden is in bloom, would please her more.
But there is no escaping the task of digging older generations out of the computer problems they bring on themselves. That is the burden the young have to bear.