Over the past several years, I have come to the conclusion that e-mail, message boards, and online chatting have created a society of rude people. Yesterday I experienced more proof of my anecdotal observations.

Background: I posted on Craigs List an ad to sell a modem that we purchased from the local telephone company when we decided to try their 30-day trial broadband package. We paid $99 for the modem package, but could not return it after deciding that the cable company had better upload speeds for us. So I decided to post it for $75. I thought it was a reasonable price to ask. We had used the modem for maybe 30 minutes. It was virtually brand-new.

I received an e-mail asking if it was still available. I replied that it was and gave the e-mailer my phone number if they were interested in purchasing it. A man called later that evening and talked to me about it. He said that he was interested and would come by the next morning to purchase it. The next morning he called, and I gave him my address and directions to my house. I told him that I would be leaving by 11:00 am. Before hanging up, he asked me again how much I was asking for it. I replied “$75…$25 less than what I paid from the telephone company.” He never showed up, which is pretty typical. I tell people that all items for sale are “first come first served” because you are never guaranteed that someone will actually show up to buy something. I figured that he had changed his mind.

While out and about, I received the following e-mail message:

“thanks for being rude to my husband by countering higher than your original asking price when he offered less. he went to best buy and found a NEW one for 69. good luck getting 75 or 100 for yours. merry christmas…”

At first I was confused. I wondered if perhaps I had gone in to the post and lowered the price since it had been up for several weeks, and had forgotten that I had done so (the effects of aging). So I called Mister and asked him to look it up. No, I had it listed for $75.00, and there was another post for a different modem at $50.00. So obviously this lady had not verified her information before sending off this retort.

Yes, my blood was boiling, and I was upset at receiving such a rude e-mail. All I had done was post something for sale. I didn’t call them up and ask them to buy it. They called me. Yes, I should have sent a link to the post and said something like “You must have me confused with someone else,” and left it at that. Instead, I sent the following reply back.

“I don’t appreciate your rudeness. I just double checked my post. It is listed for $75. You can call the telephone company and verify that their price is $100. That’s what we paid. I saw that there is someone else’s post for a modem for $50.

“I think you should double check your facts before sending off rude emails like this. Take some manners classes. I’m sure they have some at the community colleges.

“By the way, I hope you don’t have a Merry Christmas.”

So now I was being rude. I then received the following reply. Obviously she was texting from her phone.

“pince we are now accepsing internet via my phone…we didn’t recall price. maybe itp a clue that u ptill haven’t sold it that it aint worth what u want. whatever. glad we didn’t buy it at whatever rice… don’t like u”

So now everything is my fault because of the unheard price I asked for the modem. She will not take any responsibility for the mistaken identity. Her initial rudeness is all my fault. I was tired of this lady and wanted to have no more contact with her, so I immediately sent off this retort:

“If I get one more email from you, I will contact the police and file harassment charges. They can find you via your email address, and you called our house, so we have your phone number. DO NOT CONTACT me again”

Her reply:

“I don’t like idle threats. go ahead and call the authorities… I love men in uniform and would love to say hello.

“you’re not too bright are ya”

I didn’t reply. I figured “What is the use?” Plus, they have my address, directions to my house, and my phone number. From her grammar, she could definitely be a shadier character and feel no remorse doing harm to my family or property. Later I received another e-mail from her:

“turns out the modem wasn’t the problem, so it turns out we get to take the modem he bought back.

“yoohoo! Thanks so much for being so rude, we’d have been out money had we gotten your modem…. you did a good deed by accident…LOL”

At this point I figure that if I receive any idle threats in an e-mail or via phone I will definitely contact the police. Otherwise, I will leave it alone.

Question: If I were a clerk at an electronics store selling a modem that she felt was overpriced, would she have treated me in the same manner?

I think I know the answer because I have read enough message boards to know that people today feel that they can say whatever they want because they are behind the anonymity of a username that doesn’t tell anyone who they are. We have got to come up with some sort of technology that allows everyone to see who someone actually is, what they look like, where they live, etc. so that people are not tempted to display such abhorrent behavior in e-mails, on chat boards, and while chatting online. (Update 2023: meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter. Nope, doesn’t work!)

I know that it is an impossible idea, but certainly there has to be more people out there who are as sick and tired of it as I am.


  1. This is a classic example of why I believe e-mail, texting, IM and every other detached form of communication is dumbing down society; all of these devices have not only lessened our ability to communicate effectively, but have created a sub-culture that tolerates poor spelling, grammar, sentence structure and worst of all–manners.

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