On Internet Rudeness


Why is it that folks think it’s OK to send rude or hateful emails?

Every now and then I receive a mean-spirited, accusatory email from a customer. It’s always upsetting to me because I take my business very seriously and when I receive an email like this it’s really hard to not take it personally.

I hadn’t been in business very long when I received my first such email. And let me tell you, it was a barn-burner! In retrospect, I’m surprised that there wasn’t smoke coming out of the keyboard as I read it  It was a 2-page scathing email, chopping me down, calling me a scam artist and other vicious personal insults. This gal said she was going to sue me for everything I was worth and she even had a couple of things to say about my mother!

To say I was devastated was an understatement. I turned off the computer wondering if I should just give up. I hardly slept that night. I spent the better part of the next morning carefully addressing each and every point in the email, and I refunded her money with my deepest apologies.

The very next day after sending the email and refund, I called that customer to try to talk through the complaints. She cheerfully took my call saying, “Oh don’t worry about that! I wasn’t really that upset. I was just in a really crummy mood, and I had had a really horrible day and I was just venting,” she laughed. “I really didn’t think anyone would read that email anyway!”

I hung up totally dumbstruck. She was LAUGHING! I wanted to ask her exactly what there was about her letter that she found so funny, but I literally couldn’t speak.

Because here’s the deal…

when we yell at the coffee or snack machine, it’s fine, because they’re just mechanical appliances… And when we talk junk (or worse) about the driver in the car in front of us, it’s OK because they can’t hear us…

But when we scream at a website or company by way of our computer or phone, it’s all too easy to forget that we’re no longer dealing with an inanimate object, but a person.

For some reason folks feel emboldened by the anonymity they feel sitting behind that computer screen in the privacy of their homes. I guess it’s all too easy to forget that at the other end of the line is a real person, a lot like you, whose birthday was last week, who’s little girl kept her up half the night with a fever, who’s worried about making ends meet AND is personally affected by the things you say.

As you can imagine, I get dozens of emails each day and the overwhelming majority are positive and many are wonderfully written by terrific people across the globe who have been to my site and are in need of assistance or advice. However, for those thankfully few folks who insist upon peppering their accusations, demands or complaints with profanity and other expletives about my character, well… the only response they’ll be getting from now on is a swift DELETE!

And now…. it’s YOUR turn!

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  1. Lois Moran on September 8, 2020 at 7:43 am

    Thank you for posting this again – it’s something we should read or hear often! Especially in this time of virus, lost jobs, children and families going hungry, and more, tempers and frustrations become verbal or written when they shouldn’t have. Your advice to anyone receiving such is exactly right! Hope all the emails continue to be good ones! Stay safe and happy!

    • Kat on September 8, 2020 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks so much! 🙂

  2. Beth on September 8, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    I agree that “…a swift DELETE” is the best answer to such unkind, uncalled for messages, or unfriend if on FB. Too bad some people feel free to show their worst side in emails and social messaging.

  3. Vivian Oaks on October 14, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    I feel your pain. I recently made a comment on a facebook page (not my own), saying I’d wish things were like they used to be, that as a Christian, things were much better then. For the first time in my life, the fact that I claimed to be a Christian, caused me to be berated, called names and basically treated as a leper. I never thought in my lifetime that the Christian faith would be so vilified and belittled. And that was just the beginning…after the owner of the page did that, others joined in to accuse me of all kind of things, while I was no longer allowed to post on the page to defend myself.
    I knew it was a possibility, but to be attacked because I am a Christian was a first for me, and that tells me how the state of the country continues to spiral out of control in regards to decency and respect for others. I fear for my grandchildren, for what this country will turn into by the time they’re grown…. It really does scare me. (You can delete this comment after reading, if you wish.)