My recent podcast guest Whitney Tilson and I joked about how we connected through cursing emails. From his perspective, some recipient of his emails started cursing at him. Usually he deletes them, but mine he kept reading.
He saw my email responded to an email of his that cursed in a friendly way at some of his readers. I repeated his technique, which worked for him, since it used his words in the way he uses them.
Our email exchange
Here’s the core of his email to his audience that I responded to. He recounts an exchange he had with his readers.
As of a week ago, after a few stragglers finally got the jab, I didn’t think I knew a single person who wasn’t vaccinated. But I was wrong…
A friend, AD, who lives in NYC, confessed that he had gotten COVID and had never been vaccinated. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, as he often sends me crazy conspiracy stuff, to which I replied:
The instant I determine that a person (RFK Jr.) or source (Epoch Times) traffics in conspiracy theories, I never read them again. I urge you to do the same. The fact that you didn’t get vaccinated speaks volumes about how you’ve allowed your brain to become poisoned.
It’s fascinating how we can have very similar ethics…. but since me and friends feel exactly the same about your news sources that you feel about ours…. we end up at each other’s throats. This is exactly why actual debate, love, open-mindedness and understanding is needed.
Sending me something by RFK Jr., asking me to watch it, and saying “Where is what he’s saying wrong though?” and suggesting we should engage with him rather than canceling him, is like sending me something by David Duke, saying he makes some good points about race relations, and inviting a conversation. To be clear: RFK Jr. is to discussions on vaccines what David Duke is to discussions on race.
Yesterday, I added in a text to the group:
Sending you all love on Christmas.
And you want to know how you can tell I love you? I shoot straight with you if I think you’re fu*king up.
DR, if you told me you were engaged to a women you met working the pole at a strip club, I’d tell you that you are a fu*king idiot.
KD, if you told me you recent bought a “crotch rocket” motorcycle and were riding it without a helmet, I’d tell you that you were a fu*king idiot…
Ditto for anyone who chooses not to get vaxxed…
It’s only if you WEREN’T my friend and I DIDN’T care about you that I’d just stay quiet.
So sending you love from Kenya this Christmas, AD! 👍❤️
For more on these fu*king idiots, see this article in today’s NYT: As Omicron Spreads and Cases Soar, the Unvaccinated Remain Defiant
Here’s the email I sent that engaged him. How would you respond to it?
Since you wrote that “It’s only if you WEREN’T my friend and I DIDN’T care about you that I’d just stay quiet” you say “you are a fu*king idiot”, in your spirit of friendship and caring, in your words (since I wouldn’t say it this way), regarding your environmental behavior, “you are a fu*king idiot”. (To repeat, I say this in your spirit of friendship and caring).
I read most of your emails. Your message on COVID parallels why to take responsibility on our environmental behavior, with a couple differences. The environment is a bigger problem, already killing tens of millions annually. Nearly everyone is contributing so everyone has to change for the world to become sustainable.
I invite you to a conversation, if you’re game, on my podcast. (You’ll be in great company. You’ll know many on this list of popular guests.) Even if you only want to focus on the pandemic, you will benefit from being on the other side. You will learn what works or not about influencing people with irrational responses.
You’ll benefit all the more from better understanding the people you want to influence if you’re thinking “I already have my issue and don’t want to spread myself thin” or “what I do doesn’t matter” or “only governments and corporations can act on the scale we need.”
Care to schedule a call, recorded or not?
An earlier email he didn’t engage, maybe because I didn’t curse ;):
We are facing many environmental challenges. As you said, “that’s the thing about this virus – and your decision. It’s not just about you. When you chose not to get vaccinated, you endangered not only yourself, but everyone you came into contact with: family, friends, work colleagues, even strangers sitting at the next table in a restaurant.”
I read your past couple emails translating your position to act on the virus into acting on our other two big environmental challenges, pollution and climate change. With simple adjustment, nearly everything fit, subject to two big changes. One, you’d be on the opposite position. Two, pollution and climate change affect far more people. 9 million people die per year breathing air, just as one statistic. You might reread your emails with that translation.
Your passion, eloquence, and following applied to these other areas where people defend inaction with excuses like you eviscerated.
If not too forward, would you consider applying your leadership in one environmental area to another? I ask as an American who flew and consumed above average but dropped my emissions over 90 percent to find it improved my life. It wasn’t any easier for me than anyone and it didn’t stop with me. Systemic change begins with personal transformation and I now work with leaders in politics, business, sports, education, and more, including Eric Adams’ transition team.
Any interest in applying your leadership in the areas of pollution and climate change?
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