Hello again from the Big Blue!
I’m going to tread some potentially dangerous water today. Not in the lagoon, but in the hearts and minds of my friends and family. I’ve resisted tackling this subject for fear of offending yet another person I love but…darn it, I can’t control my Spock brain any longer. I must speak.
So, let’s talk about Forwards. You know them, we all get them, some of us send them. You see it sitting in your inbox and the subject line looks like this: FW: This is a true story! Appeared on Good Morning America. You click it, perhaps still a little skeptical, but then you read a heartwarming tale about a young, penniless man who was given a glass of milk when he was starving, then later became a doctor, and saved the life of the woman who’d given him that glass of milk. And just to squeeze one more tear from your eye, the doctor signs the woman’s hospital bill, “Paid in full with one glass of milk.” Aaaaaaaaaawwwwwwww!!!
Hard must be the human heart that could resist forwarding such an uplifting message to all the good folks in the Address Book. Hard hearted, I guess that’s what I am.
I rarely forward emails of any type. Not only do I not forward them, I usually delete them, unread. Thankfully, most folks know my cold hearted reputation and leave me off the mass mailing list. There are a few exceptions –Martha sends me funny pictures of cats (I’m a sucker for that) and good jokes, and Ironwoman Benson used to send me photos of Brad Pitt half-naked. But, despite my ornery disposition, I still find a FW waiting for me at least once or twice a week.
What’s my problem? What is so bad about these emails? So some of them are bogus, so what?
Yes, many Forwards are harmless – jokes, funny pictures of cats, Brad Pitt naked, (hold on, I need a moment to visualize that) – but many also range from mean spirited to downright dangerous. You need to understand, most of them are either false or have been so drastically changed from their original format that they might as well be false.
Here are the reasons I hate Forwards:
#1 – Forwards propagate hate and intolerance
This week, I received the same Forward from three different people. My finger is sore from deleting it! This Forward was about a letter to the editor, supposedly penned by a little old lady, concerning terrorists, Islam, 9/11, etc. The content of the email was bigoted, ignorant, and intolerant – three qualities I despise. It was crafted, I’m certain, to make me feel indignant and angry at Islamic persons and those that defend them but it only succeeded in making me angry that someone would want to promote such vitriol.
The writer starts with a long diatribe about the war on terrorism then asks us if we’ve forgotten about the events of 9/11. Next they state that they are supposed to care about a prisoner’s copy of the Koran getting desecrated when an overworked soldier kicked it and got it wet. “Well, I don’t care!” declares our soapboax hero. Then, they state that they will care when a series of things happens. Here are a few of the choicer bits:
“I’ll care when the mindless zealots who blow themselves up in search of nirvana care about the innocent children in range of their suicide bombs.”
“When I see a fuzzy photo of a pile of Iraqi prisoners who have been humiliated in what amounts to a college hazing incident, rest assured that I don’t care.”
Whoa, can you feel your buttons being pushed?
First off, forget about Sept 11? Is that humanly possible? I wish I could. Please, tell me how to erase those images from my mind and stop grieving for the dead. Second, I’m not going to rebut these statements, if you can’t understand what’s wrong with them then nothing I say will change your mind.
(FYI, the content of this Forward was written by Doug Patton, a freelance columnist and political speech writer, not a little old lady.)
I’m going to stop here because the goal of these types of Forwards is to get us all worked up in a lather, and I won’t walk that path.
Forwards are faceless. They are your opinion, perhaps, but they’re not your words. Don’t hide behind them, it’s cowardly. If you feel strongly about a subject, please email me and we’ll debate it. I bet you’ll find you are a lot more cautious when you take ownership of the words you send.
#2 – Forwards are liars
Has anyone received their cheque from Microsoft or AOL, yet? Didn’t think so. That Forward refuses to die. Every time I think no one can possibly still believe it, there it is, sitting smugly in my inbox. My Daddy taught me there is no such thing as a free lunch. Words to live by. No one is going to give you money for forwarding emails; no one is going to donate money to a sick/dying child if you forward an email. Repeat after me, there is no free lunch!
How about those emails telling us all to look for little Jimmy or Susie who has been missing for six months and blah, blah, blah. I have only ever come across one of these that was genuine. If it is real, forward it, by all means. And here’s where you can check for authenticity: www.snopes.com
I love Snopes. If you ever want to know the truth behind a Forward, just type the relevant information into the search bar at the top, (e.g. “Little Jimmy missing”), and it will spit you out a list of stories, with details regarding their origins and truthfulness. Just for fun, have a browse through the site. I bet you’ll come across many familiar Forwards and more than a few Urban Legends.
#3 – Forwards trick people I love
If I were at a party and overheard someone feeding an obvious line of BS to someone I love, I’d have some serious words with them. Punching might ensue, depending on the level of intoxication. If I could punch a Forward I would.
How I cringe when I see one of my friends or family has been suckered in by these shysters. That’s not to say my loved ones are suckers, it’s just that many of them have great big, round, wonderful hearts and don’t see the world through the cynical filter that I do. They can’t imagine anyone lying about a sick child for sport. Me? I can imagine a lot worse than that.
The authors of these lies and half truths play with people’s emotions. I’d punch them, too, if I could.
#4 – Forwards encourage mob mentality
One of my goals, when considering any issue, is to try and view it from as many angles as possible. I do my best to employ critical thinking in every aspect of my life. Emotions are powerful critters, prone to stampedes, and best kept on a tight rein. In recent years, the few times I have found myself going with the flow and not stopping to question my thoughts, separate from the group, I’ve always ended up ashamed, disappointed in myself.
There’s a reason riots happen, a reason otherwise sane and decent people commit unspeakable acts when in the throes of a mob. Mobs trigger deep seated emotions. These emotions pick up our nerdy higher thought processes, give them a wedgie, and stuff them in a locker.
Forwards are the electronic equivalent of a mob. The words elicit strong emotions: “innocent children”, “mindless zealots”, “overworked soldier”. These emotions stifle the little voice of reason that might say: hey, don’t the good guys kill lots of innocent children, too? Emotions have their place, and are sometimes necessary to fully comprehend an issue. Yes, emotions are terrific; I have three and use them once a month whether I need to or not. Seriously, just let the Spock brain have its say, too, that’s all I ask.
To finish, remember the story about the doctor at the beginning of this email? Well, it is a true story – somewhat. The young man was never penniless or starving, he was quite wealthy. He was out horseback riding and asked for a glass of water because he was hot and thirsty; the girl gave him a glass of milk instead. He did treat the girl, later on, when he became a doctor, but he didn’t save her life and he normally gave three out of every four patient’s free care anyway. He did write the note on her bill, just as a joke. Does it still make you teary eyed? Didn’t think so.
So now I have you all nervous. Can I ever forward something to Princess again? Well, ask yourself these questions: Is it funny? Does it have a cat in it? Is Brad at least fifty percent unclothed? If you answer no to all of those, best skip me.
Oh yeah, and don’t bother sending videos, even with funny cats in them. Our internet is so slow, by the time they download I’ll be back in Canada.
Now, please forward this Coconut Chronicle to everyone you know.
QUESTION: Do you Forward?
Until next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!
p.s. I had a few amazing days off and here’s some photos to prove it! Also, big hugs to Mom, who is recovering from new hip #2. Feel better, we love you!!
I float therefore I am… That’s one crazy looking crab!