E-petitions Don't Work

Imagine being frustrated about a new tax and going into the basement to scream. Great, you've had a little therapeutic outlet but unless the people who levied the tax are in your basement it will not change anything.

I'm just as irritated as the next guy when it looks like an injustice might be perpetrated through the passage of a new bill or some court ruling. I want to do something and I want to be efficient when I do it.

At first blush the e-petition seems like a great way to influence the powers that be. Get thousands of people who agree with you and have them all sign it, but there are a number of problems with it.

Who is capturing the data?
How am I supposed to know whether or not they are just spammers looking for more e-mail addresses?
Who do they plan to send the captured information to?
Is it someone that is in a position to influence the situation?
Is that person going to give any credence to an excel file full of demographic information or would a personal letter from me make my point better?

My point is that I want to be effective when I engage in a situation like this and sometimes quick and effective cannot be combined. There are times when a well written personal letter or e-mail to the right person is the best method, particularly if you are sending it to an elected official. While e-petitions might contribute to a sense that I did something many times it's just theater, because no one in a position to influence the situation actually got the message.

I'm not going to sign e-petitions anymore. Instead I'm going to write personal letters.