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  • Richard Farr

First names and social distancing

Not being of the Fascism-Curious Party, I will vote for Joe Biden in the Fall. Being sufficiently revolted by the FCP that I have contributed to the DNC's fund-raising efforts, I receive several emails a day asking me to contribute more.

I don't mind this. I do mind that the DNC invariably cozies up to me in these messages by using my first name.

This is probably quite irrational. For reasons I'm struggling to identify, when the body of the message uses the simple address "Richard, ..." (or even the too-folksy "Hey Richard, ...") it doesn't bother me much. But a paragraph that begins: "To tell you the truth, Richard ...." reminds me of pitches from tone-deaf car salesmen, and has me reaching for Delete. And somehow it's even worse when the message header is (say) "A huge moment in the cash race, Richard." I sense that the formulation is meant to make me feel included, patted on the back, treated as one of the gang; I sense that the author has not thought of the possibility that it only makes me feel stood too close to, condescended to, breathed on, invaded, groped, treated way too obviously as a mark.

I know: it would be ridiculously old-fashioned to expect a campaign email to address me by my last name, combined with that ancient, simple, decent title "Mr." But in this time of Trumpian brutality, with soi-disant "conservatives" behaving everywhere as foul-mouthed illiterate thugs, I find myself nostalgic for the assumptions that once underlined such ordinary, polite, smarmless distancing.

It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: of course this is trivial; of course I wish I had more money to give to the campaign; of course I dream of Donald Trump going down to an unprecedented, historic ballot-box immolation and then getting his just desserts in the form of a sledge-hammer, some rocks, and twenty year's free rental on a monogrammed orange jump suit.

Mr. Biden for President! Just keep a little distance, please.


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