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The Hater: Damn, Dad was right about email

Don't you hate it when that happens?


Carin Moonin

Internet Culture

Posted on Aug 15, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 9:02 am CDT

Who the hell is reading my emails?

Between the NSA, the FAA, the PGP, and the, can’t I send secure snapshots of my cats to anyone anymore? I’m so confused. Until recently, I thought PRISM was just an ill-fated cable network from Philly. 

I have no idea what’s going on.

Because I’m not a security target, right? The snoop crew would find my emails boring as shit. They largely consist of obligatory missives to my folks, queries for my novel that has still not sold, and thank-you-notes to friends for dinner (even when I hide in the bathroom). 

It’s kind of scary, though, right? The idea that someone can go through your email, for kinda, sorta, whatever harebrained reason? It does bring out that indignant defensiveness of someone reading your diary. 

But, hey. If you’re in an office job, you should know that no email is truly private. So why wouldn’t we know to transfer that same expectation to our lives outside work?

Because we all do dumb things. We forget. To use the Internet is to overshare. 

Do many things about NSA email surveillance make me wary? Yes. Definitely, yes. That’s a larger discussion that I don’t have the capacity for here, at this time. Maybe ever. 

But here’s the thing that freaks me out the most: It means my dad is right.

And I hate that.

My dad isn’t a paranoid conspiracy theorist or anything. He’s just a dad. He’s one of those dads who doesn’t put anything on email except for cat pictures (it runs in the family) and reports on the weather in Nevada. Basically, if it’s anything beyond a third-grade reading level, he sends me a letter. A real, snail mail, stamped letter. 

(There are other dads like this, right?)

This has gone on for decades. It happens like this: I’m going along, living my life, assuming all is well, parents are healthy, happy, contacted-by-me enough to leave me in peace…and then—bam!—a veritable dossier thuds through the mail slot. 

What’s he sending me? Family secrets? Closely guarded information? Mysteries of the Unknown?

No, no. Just basic, rambling, nonsensical Dad shit.

Everything from ruminations (and there are many) on his health (even though it’s fine), to contact information for random people, to memories of us feeding the ducks together when I was eight. It’s like a free-writing assignment that’s been shuffled in and out of Babelfish. (Think you’re lucky that you don’t get letters like this from your dad? Stop gloating. At least I’m not living with him.)

Is it sweet? Sure. Is it well-intentioned? Absolutely. Can it be put on email? I don’t see why not. But maybe he’s right. Maybe he sees something I don’t. 

That’s what dads are for, right?

Photo by Muffet/Flickr

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*First Published: Aug 15, 2013, 3:36 pm CDT