Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Chain Letters


I've never liked chain letters. Remember back in the days before computers and the excitement of getting a real letter in the mail? Then you'd open it and find a lousy chain letter. Chain letters in the old days were usually typed on carbon paper, thin and smudgy. They would say something like, "Send a copy of this letter to 10 people and your dearest wish will come true!"

Sometimes they'd promise money. "Send a dollar to the person who's name is on the bottom of the list. When your name reaches the bottom, you'll receive one hundred dollars!" Or a thousand or whatever...I could never figure out the math or the logistics.

No matter what carrot on the stick each chain letter offered, the thing that always got me was the threat; the bad cop to the promised rewards good cop. It was always some variation of 'if you break the chain, you'll have bad luck for the rest of your life.' Or 'If you don't send this letter to five people within 10 days, you'll die!'

The same bozo that invented chain letters probably also came up with childhood game of 'step on a crack, break your mother's back. ' Superstitious and emotional blackmail, pure and simple. It really pissed me off, even as a kid.

Despite a healthy dose of superstition, I didn't send out a lot of chain letters. Too much like doing homework. After all, while I tried to be careful and avoid cracks in the sidewalk, my mom didn't have much in the way of back pain back in those days. And the few times I did let myself get sucked into the chain letter game, I didn't notice any increase in good luck or receive any money. Of course, maybe the promised good luck was cancelled out by the bad luck caused by breaking the chain of so many other chain letters...or not.

These days, thanks to email and the convenience of cutting and pasting text, chain letters are much easier to send than they were in the days when your choices were typing out five to 10 copies on a typewriter without correct-o-tape, or the hazards of carbon copies, which were even more unforgiving of typos.

I still hate them.

Not only do they clog up cyberspace, but now they also have expanded to include inspirational stories, ones too saccharine even for Reader's Digest. "Send this inspirational story to 20 of your dearest friends and make their day!" How many of us actually have '20 dearest friends' anyway? And if we did, do we really want to piss them off by sending them a chain letter? How about 'send this to 20 people that you barely know and don't care if they get irritated by this and really hate you?'

There are chain emails to inspire female solidarity with a series of inspirational quotes by famous women. I like the quotes, but hate being told to 'send to 10 strong women and let you know you appreciate them.' I'll send them if I feel like it, thank you very much! And only if I think the recipient will appreciate me sending them.

There are the ones warning people of various perils, "This really happened to a friend of a friend of my aunt! Pass this on and warn your loved ones!" Most of these, if not all, are urban legends. Cyber hoaxes invented by people with a sick sense of humor and way too much time on their hands.

And then, like the one I received today, there are the classic chain emails that tell you to "scroll down, make a wish and oooh, scary, the phone will ring as soon as you finish! You'll get your wish in the same number of minutes as your age! Really! It works!" As you scroll, you get little stories that are the equivalent of product endorsement 'I did this and got a new job 25 minutes after I made my wish! I'm 25 years old!' along with 'wait for it...keep scrolling...almost there!' And of course: "Send this to five of your friends or you'll have bad luck for the rest of your life."

I'll tell you who's gonna have bad luck -- the person who sent me this stupid email 'cause I'm gonna beat the crap out of 'em the next time I see them.

Now send this blog to 10 of your closest friends...or else.

10 Comments:

  • At 5:49 PM, Blogger Other Lisa said…

    Say, I think you should check your bloglet subscription status again - I didn't get any notice of the below leopard posts (and can I just say "ccuuuuutte!!!!")

     
  • At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Chain letters are for people of great faith and lots of time. I have lots of time---

     
  • At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have no time for chain-letter emails right now ... I am busy finalizing a Nigerian "business opportunity" email. I'm gonna be rich!!!

     
  • At 8:06 AM, Blogger zhadi said…

    *snort!* Yeah, I forgot to mention those "I'm a Nigerian businessman trying to escape oppression invest in my diamond mines" chain letters...

     
  • At 8:06 AM, Blogger zhadi said…

    *snort!* Yeah, I forgot to mention those "I'm a Nigerian businessman trying to escape oppression invest in my diamond mines" chain letters...

     
  • At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Jen C. said…

    Damn straight! Although I'm not troubled by chain emails anymore. I've chewed out my friends so much in the past about these that they know better now.

     
  • At 2:29 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    Ah, fear is the key...

     
  • At 8:49 PM, Blogger allison said…

    i hate chain letters and send them back to the sender with a not "please do not send me garbage like this again."

     
  • At 2:31 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    And then they get their feelings hurt and accuse you of having no soul..."How could you NOT want the cute inspirational sayings?"

     
  • At 12:37 PM, Blogger FreeThinker said…

    ... which is why the "It Takes Guts To Say Jesus" virus hoax was so pervasive several years ago.

     

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