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Background: My father and I live in different countries. I moved a few years ago on account of my job. My father is a curious person who likes to read and understand whatever he can find.

He retired a couple of years ago and ever since, he started to spam our family chat group with whatever he thinks is useful. I understand that his intention is good. However, it can get a bit too much often.

At first I would read his messages(forwards or links) or watch the videos he sent me. However, once it became a little too much, I started to ignore them in the family group. There are many things he would forward which is misinformation and I used to validate them and inform my father that what he is sending is not true and he has to fact check it before forwarding it to others. After that, the spam did not stop. Instead they came with a disclaimer "I'm only forwarding something I received and do not guarantee the information being passed on". I presume whoever sent it to my father added this because I would receive that as the forwarded message. After which, I ignored if my father messaged unless it was addressed to someone specifically.

This was going fine until he stopped spamming the family group and started sending those messages to me directly. I continued to ignore them. However, sometimes when we talk on videocalls etc, he refers to some of those spam messages he sent me and says something about it. If I say I did not see that message, he insists I do that.

Truth is, I most of what he sends are things I am not interested in. Some are religious and I am not. So, even if he insists I see what he sent me, I am certain I won't like them. There are a few messages he sends which are good. But that number does not match with the ones I don't want to see. This is to the extent that I can do without his spam.

Post retirement, he does not have much to do, so he does this and I had to mute both my family group and my father to avoid the constant alerts on my phone. My concern is that, by muting, there is chance that I might miss something important.

Question: How do I tell my father to either reduce the spam frequency or even stop without hurting his feelings or make him feel I don't like getting his messages?

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    Have you thought of just treating this as it is, spam, and throw in the garbage? without even mentioning? – OldPadawan Nov 2 '20 at 21:48
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    @OldPadawan That is what I'm doing at the moment. However, like I mentioned, there are instances where he brings up something about what he sent and if I say I haven't seen it, he insists that I do. – KNP Nov 2 '20 at 22:07
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    Grown-ups are responsible for what they post. Tell him you won't read anything he won't personally vouch for. "Dad, you know what you call someone who repeatedly spreads lies? A liar". – swbarnes2 Nov 2 '20 at 22:57
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    @swbarnes I don't know if I didn't make it clear in the post. He's not intentionally spreading lies. And your suggestion seems harsh too. He's passing on information that he believes because someone he knows or trusts sends him, without checking if it's true or not. There's a huge difference between being unaware and lying. I would like a healthy and positive way to tell him not to spam. Because I didn't say everything he sends is misinformation. – KNP Nov 2 '20 at 23:26
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    If he believed what he was told, he would not be saying "I'm just spreading this, I won't vouch for it". If it mattered to him that he was spreading lies, he'd stop. He's not a helpless child. Don't treat him like one. – swbarnes2 Nov 3 '20 at 0:48
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I don't think you can tell your father "please stop spamming me" without hurting his feelings.

However, it's probably possible to not hurt those feelings too much if you tell him something like this:

Hey Dad, you know, I'm not really interested in all that religious stuff you are sending me, so I don't read them. But I liked this other article about X. So maybe you could stop sending me stuff about religion and send me things about X instead?

Then you should keep talking about subject X and how it interested you.


What you are doing here is two things:

  1. Tell him that you are not interested in all the "spamming" he does.

This first thing will likely hurt your father's feelings. That's why you then should:

  1. Tell him about something else you like so that your father knows that you are still open to receiving messages from him. You just don't want those messages to be about religion.

I use a similar technique when talking in "real life". Yes, the person will not be very happy that they can't talk about X with you. However, if you keep the conversation going about something else, those negative feelings are likely to be outweighed by the good feelings of whatever you are talking about next.

  • @electronpusher You are right, it could backfire. That's why it's very important to not lie. If you don't like the spamming because you just haven't the time, say so. As for the "branching out", it never was an issue for me, but that can probably happen if what you like is too "narrow" – Ael Nov 3 '20 at 20:51
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@KNP, as you said your father has retired. So, by reading and sending whatsapp messages, he is trying to engage himself. I would suggest not curbing his enthusiasm. Let him be busy with this. Staying idle is much worse. I face a similar situation with my cousin and a friend.

My cousin spams the family group. I have muted the group. I don't ask her to send less messages because she is in a difficult marriage. So, whatever is giving her happiness, I go by that. At the same time, I don't want to engage in cat/infant/religious propaganda videos. Sometimes, over call, when mentions a particular message, I go and check that message and respond accordingly. (Out of the 20 messages she sends in a day, only 1 is what she wants my response to. So, I engage with that during or after her call only.)

Same with a friend, who lost a job at the start of the lockdown. It's been 7 months that he is keeping himself busy with 'internet'. In the process, sending me the job enquiries that he is interested in. Sending me the job question papers that he wants to prepare. Not to mention random youtube videos. Again, I have muted him. But I am also worried what if he genuinely needs me. So, I check his chats just once a day. Most often, it's not urgent. It can always be dealt within 24 hours of his message.

So, I guess our uneasiness with muting them has its roots in FOMO, when the fact is if we are checking on them once a day then it's all good. After all, if we are in different cities then we can't really be physically present even if it's something urgent.

If you are still worried that you might miss something important then you can say this your father, "Papa, I am worried that I might miss something important amongst the large number of messages. Maybe you could send forwarded messages only to the family group, and send me a direct message only when there is something personal between us? This would ensure that I reply timely to your messages. Love."

  • My sister spams us all on Facebook with weird political statements - mostly links to some conspiracy website. I have blocked her long ago and told her why. This is all she does. Sometimes she mails me her latest news, and there's always some political spam in there, but I don't bother to read or answer those bits. If we meet in real life and she starts, the whole family goes "No Politics!!!" – RedSonja Nov 9 '20 at 14:41

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