I have a few pet peeves in life, things like warm beer, tight underwear and anything with Ryan Seacrest. But few things drive me up a wall as much as e-mail “forwards.”
For those of you who might not be familiar with e-mail “forwards,” let me give you a little sample.
You open your inbox to a message with a subject line that reads, “Fwd: fwd: Fwd: fwd: fwd: fwd: You Gotta Read This.” What follows is usually a list of 9,389 e-mail addresses of people who have already received this e-mail over the past 400 years along with a 9,000-word treatise about a man and a dog looking for heaven and a bowl of water or something.
The fact is forwarded e-mails have, in fact, been around for hundreds of years. I know what some of you are thinking: The Internet — The Source Of All Truth — has only been around since 1901, when it was invented by Al Gore.
That’s a joke, of course. Al Gore didn’t invent the Internet – The Source Of All Truth — until the 1920s.
Again, that’s not exactly true, but it’s close. Seriously, the first forwarded e-mail was actually a chain letter that began circulating in 1105. It was started when a religious fanatic named Herman Wozniak wrote a letter, made copies at his local Kinko’s and began passing the copies around claiming they originated from Al Gore.
Ha. Another joke. Herman actually claimed the letter was penned by none other than the Pope himself.
The letter instructed the receiver to make 100 copies (also at a local Kinko’s) and pass the copies out within five days to friends, family and others in the receiver’s address book. There were stories about the faithful few who passed out the copies and received rewards like money, girls, and Ryan Seacrest marathons. For those who didn’t heed the call to pass out the copies ... it was death — death by Ryan Seacrest marathons. It was horrible.
There have been variations of the chain letters through the years. Remember the one back in the 1970s that told people they needed to return the letter to the sender along with $1. In return, the receiver could then send the letter out to all his friends asking for $1 in return. If everything worked according to plan, the receiver could earn up to $3 — minus stationery, stamps and a humongous Kinko’s bill.
Today, the chain letter or forwarded e-mail is way too easy. You can now send an e-mail to hundreds and hundreds of people with a couple of keystrokes — no visit to Kinko’s needed.
Forwarded e-mails today consist of messages about free food coupons from Cracker Barrel, millions of dollars being handed out by Bill Gates and plans of Disney Land building a new theme park near Boley, Okla. and Celina, Texas. While all of these e-mails seem like they could be true they are, in fact, all false. But they continue to traverse the globe via the World Wide Web.
I actually don’t receive that many e-mail forwards any more. People pretty much know that I won’t open them, so don’t send them my way. But I have a new perpetrator, who I will call Steve (because that’s his name) who just won’t quit.
Steve got my name innocently enough. Sometimes groups of people need to share their e-mail addresses in order to conduct business. Instead of sending hundreds of individual e-mails to communicate something, you can click on a group and send one e-mail to everyone on the list. My e-mail address was on one of those lists. Steve received an e-mail with my e-mail address along with several other people’s e-mail address. The first e-mail I got from Steve was all business. Plenty of good information.
But then it started.
I started getting two and three and four forwarded e-mails a day. At first I would open them and scroll down about two inches before I hit the “delete” button. Then I started just deleting them without even opening them. Then it got so bad I created a “rule.” If an e-mail came from Steve’s e-mail address, my software will do the following: Delete the message and put the message in a giant bon fire and send a automatic reply to Steve threatening to send Ryan Seacrest to his house to perform show tunes from “Cats.”
You don’t want that, Steve. Trust me.
So, I guess the message is this: If you have something to say to somebody, just say it. Don’t send them what somebody else said to somebody else who said it to somebody else.
But, seriously, if you get those Cracker Barrel coupons, will you please give me a call.