Richmond.edu, who are you?

So for the past week or so, I’ve been getting all these weird emails from people with Richmond.edu return addresses. Most of them are in the form of short essays, either agreeing or disagreeing with some of the points I make in the introduction to my book Screenagers (formerly, Playing the Future).

I tried to write back to some of them, figuring after the first three or four that it was some kind of class assignment, and that their teacher was hoping I’d write them back. Or maybe he thought it was good for them to experience their essays in action.

Most of them seemed unconscious of the fact that it was the introduction to a book. They kept referring to it as an ‘essay,’ and wanted to know why I hadn’t brought up points that end up being made (or refuted) in the book itself. And a couple of them were downright obnoxious.

The weirdest part, though, is that the most obnoxious ones seemed surprised – almost insulted – that I wrote them back. These ones told me that they were forced to send their essay to me by their teacher, that they don’t care at all about my book or essay, and that I shouldn’t have responded to their emails.

So, I look up richmond.edu on the Internet, and it turns out this isn’t some junior high school, but a real university. And though I’ve written back to pretty much all of these students, telling them I’ve got no context for what they’re sending me – that no one has bothered to even write an into line to me, such as, “we were assigned to write an essay for our media class, and then to send it to you for comment.” Nothing. And the only ones who write me back – just two of them, so far – have written to say it’s crazy for me to write them back, and they either didn’t mean what they wrote or just didn’t care.

If the teacher of this course is listening (no one will tell me who it is), you should know that I’m honored you have included me in your curriculum – but that I could have been of much better service to you if you had clued me in to the fact that they would all be writing to me. And you might have told them that if they did email me, they might get a response!

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