There was a time when in order to make my voice heard, I had to write a letter or make a call. Boy, how things have changed! My input is now in constant demand.
Today was typical. I was asked by Working Assets to e-mail President Bush urging him not to pardon Scooter Libby and by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to write to the president to sign the lifesaving Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. CNN wanted my thoughts on whether or not NBC should be airing the tape of Princess Diana's final moments, John Podesta e-mailed to have me notify my Congressman to oppose Rep. Boucher's energy plan, the Care2 Campaign Team asked that I make sure the Pet Safety & Protection act gets a vote in Congress and to sign petition to step up the farm bill and to pass the Matthew Shepard Act. I cooperated in urging my senators to support the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act and weighed in a second time with Jerry Nadler to let him know I'm opposed to shaking babies. Is it possible there people e-mailing in favor of Shaken Baby Syndrome? Is is strange that I have more to say to Senators Schumer and Clinton than I do to my own son? How is it I've become an unpaid consultant to the world at large?
One could get the impression that nothing moves forward without my input. I've been asked for my feelings about the Terry Schiavo controversy, impeaching Gonzalez, Hillary's hair styles and whether or not Rumsfeld should step down. Move-On had me prioritize the issues in the upcoming election and vote on each commercial they're considering, AOL asked if I'd take care of my mate should he be in a coma for 19 years (see earlier posting) and if I want our troops to come home. TripAdvisor has me critiquing hotels I've stayed at, Epinions welcomes my feelings about movies and electrical appliances, Zagat solicits my opinions on restaurants.
Between all that and e-mailing my political representatives to protest rising gas costs, the treatment of political prisoners and to ask that they endorse particular candidates, letting Wal-Mart know what they're doing wrong, forwarding news from the Simon Wiesenthal Center to my buddy list, daily hits to the Breast Cancer and Literacy sites as well as sending e-mails to save polar bears and money to save Darfur, there's little time left for grocery shopping or personal grooming. Is it any wonder that my eyebrows have stray hairs?
I certainly understand why the White House can't handle things personally, the way I do, and, instead, automatically responds with an e-mail that reads, "On behalf of President Bush, thank you for your correspondence. We appreciate hearing your views and welcome your suggestions. Due to the large volume of e-mail received, the White House cannot respond to every message. Thank you again for taking the time to write." Hell, I know what it's like gtting a large volume of e-mail and if I weren't so invested in what happens, I'd be tempted to respond with a message like that. Bush pointed out that he has a hard job - and so I do. It must be that much more frustrating fielding all the demands on your time when what you really want to do is hang out at your ranch.
Yet, while I consider it disrespectful of NBC to air the photos of the final moments of Diana's life and would oppose President Bush pardoning Scooter Libby, who lied under oath (forgive me, I haven't yet formulated an opinion on the TB traveler), what ultimately happens rarely corresponds to what I want. I just received this: "Dear Sybil...Wal-Mart's meeting last week was a real spectacle. It featured comedy from Sinbad, performances by Jennifer Lopez and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, and an interpretive dance routine. The only thing missing was a serious discussion of Wal-Mart's policies. During the four-hour event, Wal-Mart devoted just three minutes to each of the 11 shareholder proposals -- many of them common sense reforms that would have made Wal-Mart a better corporate citizen...Make no mistake though -- the Board knows that people are fed up with its practices. Before their meeting, each member received your letter, your video, and the signatures of thousands of concerned Americans...So far the Board has resisted your calls for change. "
This whole process is a bit like being the parent of a teenager. You talk, talk, talk and you're never sure anyone is listening.