Urban Legend Spreaders

What is up with the people that send you chain e-mails? Sometimes it is an actually beautiful poem or sentiment or encouragement, then at the end it’s, “Send this to 10 people in 10 minutes or your computer will turn upside-down and become infested with packrats but if you send this to 10 people within 5 minutes money will fall from the sky.” Can’t you just send the sentiment and say, “Wasn’t this nice” or “I was thinking you might enjoy this piece” or “I was thinking about you today and wanted to send you something nice?” You know, you could get in big trouble if you did that with the mail. If you must forward

Since I have gotten on this e-mail tangent, let me say something else. Why can’t people be bothered to check even the simplest facts, or apply common sense to the most absurd statements. Some of the e-mails people send around can give the Weekly World News, that bastion of journalism, a run for its money. Well, okay, sorry. I guess it could happen that Kentucky Fried Chicken was really growing genetically altered, four-legged headless chickens and that the FDA made them change their name to KFC since their product wasn’t really a chicken. Yep. Could have happened that way. Like Bill Gates and AOL teaming up and tracking a particular e-mail which, if forwarded, will cause Mr. Gates to send you to Disneyland?

I think people who claim to be Christians should be particularly careful about the e-mails they send out. After all, we are not supposed to spread rumors or tell lies or threaten people with curses, are we? Made-up stories, unless people know you are a fiction author are lies, as are half-truths. Many of the e-mails, especially one with a picture of John Kerry with Hanoi Jane, which was obviously doctored up by Photoshop, that went around before the election make us look like we have to stoop to their level. Our man won on his integrity, not by lying about his opponent like others did.

When you get an e-mail that sounds too good to be true, or is some sort of breaking news that the mainstream media hasn’t reported, like a giant killer white shark in the San Francisco Bay that leaps out of the water and attacks helicopters flying over, think about it. Well, I am sure, as the Weekly World News reported a few years back, that space aliens did meet with Rush Limbaugh and begged him to run for president. There was a picture on the front page. And what about the Yeti hooker that Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy spent time with. There are photos!

Why in the world would you not think the same thing about e-mail as you do the checkout-line tabloids? What possesses a person to think, “Oh, it’s in an e-mail, it must be true?” That’s like saying, “They couldn’t publish it in print on the newsstand if it weren’t true.” We already know there is a bias in much of the mainstream media that takes every word that some dumb idol from Hollyweird says as the gospel truth but never investigates the truth. Some of us even know there are outlets for a right-wing bias also. Talk Radio is still entertainment, boys and girls and just like every other news story or ideology you should get as much information for yourself before believing it either.

As some of you have already learned, I have a method for dealing with Urban Legends that are sent to me in the e-mail. I have a couple of websites that I use to determine the veracity of your story. They are http://urbanlegends.about.com/ and http://truthorfiction.com/, which deal with urban legends. These folks deserve for you to bookmark them. The one on the About network is a little more cynical and politically left, in my opinion, but he tells the truth! The second one is by a Christian who believes it is wrong for Christians to spread lies as though they were true. I encourage everyone to check them out, not only for reference but also because they are entertaining. You will find yourself going, “Oh brother. Who would believe that?” Anyway, when I have found out your story is wrong, I do a “Reply All”, then go into the body of the e-mail, and get every other address that I can find and send it back with a scathing note and links to the truth.

Take a few minutes to bookmark a couple of reliable sites that will tell you whether this is the truth or not. http://urbanlegends.about.com/ or http://truthorfiction.com/ are only two of a multitude of sites you can find.

In the meantime, on the humor blog, http://herbshumor.blogdrive.com/ I have posted an e-mail I received in 1999 that is called, “The Last E-Mail You Will Ever Need.”

Take a moment to think before you hit that “send” button and remember, as the Good Book says, “All liars can go to hell.”

3 Comments

  1. Agree with you. Forwards are strange. Especially: “Add your age and birth year and you will get current year! This happens once every million years!”

    Or

    “This february has 4 mondays, tuesdays, wednesdays…..sundays. this happens once every million years!”

    And the same people post the same message every year…

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