I get mail from strangers. Most of the time it is really nice and lovely. Sometimes it is a little crazy but still nice. But occasionally it is mean and hateful. It is Hate Mail. If you’ve been reading my columns for a while, you know that I love Hate Mail. Being liked is easy; all you have to do is be sweet and unobtrusive. But when the right people can’t stand you, you know you’re accomplishing something.
I try to make a point of responding to everyone who writes to me. Sometimes it takes a while, because I have a job and a truck payment and stuff, and sometimes I screw up and forget, but I really do try to write everybody back. I mean, I’m not Justin Bieber; I receive a manageable amount of mail, and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t respond to everyone.
I include the senders of Hate Mail when I say “everyone.” They took the time to express their opinion, so I should take the time to respond.
However, because their Hate Mail is so hateful, I feel the need to save some time and energy. After all, my arguments are already presented in my columns, and who has the extra time and patience to explain to someone who is calling you terrible names in capital letters why fetuses are humans, laws express morality, and if you hate looking at my ugly face you should probably stop reading my columns?
So I created a form letter. I fill in the person’s name at the top, and I leave the rest as shown below. I highly recommend this approach. It saves a lot of work, and there is nothing more amusing than the irate responses you get when no matter how many times they write you and how much they insist on WRITING LIKE THIS!!! and saying &%@! over and over, you just keep sending the same form letter back.
Not only is it really fun, but it’s also – and here’s the serious part – a great way to let people know you read their message without getting down and wallowing in the mud with them. This is not a good reply for someone with a legitimate dissenting argument; I’ll write those people back with what I hope is thoughtfulness and respect. This is for Hate Mail, specifically written to insult and belittle you. A form letter like mine helps you get out some of your frustration without being mean or threatening back to that person. We’re the Good Guys, remember? This letter lets you use a little humor to assert your own dignity without stooping to their level.
So here’s my Hate Mail response form letter:
Dear (Name of Hater),
Congratulations! You are being sent a form letter!
As you may know, faithful reader, I enjoy hate mail a great deal. Most of the feedback I get is positive, and that makes me happy, of course, but nothing lets me know I’m touching a nerve like angering the right people!
If this is your first time writing, you may not know that I try to respond to everyone who writes to me. However, some of my mail does not merit an actual response because it is filled with asinine name-calling, bizarre and uncomfortable conspiracy theories, vulgar threats*, ridiculously stupid “arguments,”** or some combination of the above. In those cases, I send a form letter.
You see, since whatever I have written has obviously made you feel anxious, upset, angry, or otherwise bad, I accept some responsibility for all that stress, and I’d like to help you out by providing you with some ideas of how to spend your Internet time more pleasantly.***
Here is a website where you can put your face on dancing bodies.
This site has lots of games and puzzles and stuff.
(Hater’s Name), believe me, there’s a whole Internet full of stuff to do besides read articles you disagree with and send a letter that is too poorly written, obscene, and/or creepy to justify a personal reply.
And if you just can’t stop yourself from continuing to read my work, you might need this link to a website that will show you various ways to relieve stress, such as deep breathing, yoga, and hobbies.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my article and visit my website. I will definitely add your letter to my collection of hate mail.
Also, if you called me a “c” word in your letter, you have been added to my special C Word File! Yay! Congratulations!
Here’s hoping you find the kind of joy in your life that I find from making people mad on the Internet.
*Please note that if you have made a serious threat against my physical person, I have forwarded your email to my fiance, who is a big mean scary Soldier, and my father, who is a big mean scary police officer. Do you know who else can be mean and scary, although slightly less big? Me! Although your threat was probably the kind of cowardly posturing common to people who like to hide behind the Internet, please note that any actual physical action against me will be met with the requisite legal and justifiable response necessary to defend my person. It is probably in your best interest to continue to snivel behind a keyboard.
**I won’t call your argument “stupid” just because it differs from mine. An example of a stupid argument would be the 3-page Word document I received explaining that we should not care about abortion because mankind is evil and deserves to be eradicated – starting with me! – in large part because of its insistence on eating meat.
***These sites are not affiliated with me in any way. They have not endorsed me or my viewpoints and are probably unaware of my existence. I have received no remuneration of any kind for mentioning them.
****This is not me being sarcastic. I believe in all that Jesus stuff about how we should love everybody. You people make it really hard but dude. I’m trying.