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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Advice: Unwanted Political Spam Forwarded by Family


I dearly love my brother Bill and I know he loves me as well, but we are miles apart politically, and never will we agree.

At family gatherings, we argue constantly; this last election has really driven a wedge between us.

I would just love to put the whole thing to rest, but Bill just can't seem to stop himself. He is constantly forwarding junk spam e-mail to me, mostly about how crooked the Democrats are.

I'm really fed up and would like to stop receiving such mail; in fact, I nearly answered his last spam with an angry e-mail of my own, but at the last minute, I decided to delete it.

How should I handle this?

--Frustrated and Fed up!
Alas, Aunt Savvy understands this issue all too well.

Your instincts were correct when you decided not to fire off that angry e-mail to your brother.

You have to ask yourself that all important question: "What do you wish to accomplish by scolding Bill?"

He's not likely to stop sending such e-mails, especially if you overreact.

The best policy here is simply to zap the spam e-mails (unread). Usually, forwarded spam is easy to detect, but should you accidentally click on to such a message, simply delete it as soon as you receive it, and take a deep breath.

In person (or on the telephone), let Bill know that you are very concerned about receiving spam and forwarded messages because of potential viruses and that you generally delete such messages without opening them but that you love receiving personal e-mails containing news about family and friends. Be sure that your tone is upbeat. This may or may not stop the spam, but at least he will know how you feel without his feeling directly threatened.

At family gatherings, don't bring up political issues, and don't allow Bill to goad you into an argument. Many times, such potentially heated discussions can be deflected with humor (not bitter satire or snark) and understanding.

For example, you can always say something like, "Well, Bill, I know we can agree on one thing: we both love our country and family" or "Let's just agree to disagree and leave it at that." And, then, with smile on your face, change the subject to something neutral, like the weather.

You and Bill may never agree on politics, but you can still love and appreciate each other and embrace what you do have in common: family.

Note: This is not a real question, but a what-if scenario based on a common family problem. Aunt Savvy will always disclose when a question is based on a scenario.

Aunt Savvy would be pleased to consider answering your real questions for this site.

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