I’m such an idiot. I go and drop an in-joke for a couple of friends about people getting insulted. I neglect to make it especially clear that this is a joke based on something that recently happened to me, and not any genuine feeling or thought that I have.
Anyway, at this point, I just sound like a babbling idiot without at least a little context.
I recently went to my high school reunion (10 years). Somehow, I became involved with the planning, particularly with planning/creating a facebook with updated information. In the interest of compiling everyone’s information in a clear, easy way (with the ultimate goal of doing a mail merge), I created a form/questionnaire for people to fill out with specific, detailed data points.
There were four sections of the form for people to give the information I was looking for. For instance, there was a “Personal Info” section that asked for name, maiden name, address, email address, date of birth, phone number (home and cell).
There was a family info section that asked for spouse’s name, anniversary, spouse’s birthday, children’s name and birthdays (I put four lines for this, figuring four was the max # kids someone might have at this point).
There was a professional info section that asked for undergraduate school/degree/graduation year, graduate school/degree/graduation year, profession and employer.
Finally, there was a “Fun Facts” section that was about 10 blank lines for people to write in something funny/cute/interesting about themselves.
I sent out the form to the email addresses that I had for the class (all but a handful) and asked them politely to help me assemble the info and return the completed forms. I said I understood that some of this info may be deemed private to some people, and they shouldn’t feel obligated to fill out any part that makes them uncomfortable. I even filled out a form with my own info, and attached it to show people how it’s done.
I started getting back completed forms, with various bits of information either completed or left out. Nobody seemed to have an issue.
Then I got an email from someone with an extremely agressive tone, telling me that my form was extremely insensitive, for having such a “focus” on the family information, and not enough devoted to other “accomplishments.” (Meanwhile, this person put nothing in the blank space for free writing about other things/accomplishments, so I wonder). I emailed back saying I didn’t quite understand what the problem was. There were four sections of the form, and if the quibble was that more space was allocated to family info, that was simply a matter of function and not emphasis (four lines for kids, etc). I was attacked for not putting “if applicable” next to the family section, even though I had made exceedingly clear that the entire form was optional.
I questioned whether those people that didn’t have a graduate degree might be offended or insulted at my inclusion of that info? What about homeless people being asked about their address? Someone who doesn’t have a cell phone being asked for a cell phone number? I replied that the concern in the email was overstated and that I had done nothing objectively wrong, in my opinion. As I said then “[t]he simple fact that the entirety of your concern boils down to the inclusion of ‘if applicable’ speaks to its triviality.”
This person subsequently emailed back that there was no surprise that I responded in that way, continued to attack me, and tried to get the last word by saying “I don’t want to go back and forth on this.” I emailed back saying that I thought this was an important issue and didn’t mind continuing to discuss it, and if there was no desire to “go back and forth” then the person should stop emailing me. Nothing since.
The next morning, after getting and responding to the first email, I brought this up with my trainmates, who, while some agreed with me, many told me that there truly is a sensitivity there that I should have thought of (mind you, I thought about it when I made the form, then rejected it). I did, and still do, think it’s ridiculous to have to bend over to every person’s flights of over-sensitivity, when the objective middle is that there’s nothing wrong.
Anyway, that’s the genesis of the joked I dropped here. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear. I wonder, though, what your thoughts are.