Why Chain Letters Are So Bad Part 4: Excuses, Excuses, Angry Memers, Friendships Lost

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Excuses, Excuses.

There are always excuses people fall back on for replicating memes.

You may have seen them, or made up a few yourself when passing on memes. (And that was the notorious 5 Lessons How To Treat People meme which sucker-punched two people by that bloc's own admission.

The excuses for meming.

One of the most bullyish is "I'm/she's/he's just a little child/x years old, and really scared/just doing this for fun/I'm bored" etc. etc.

This is an attempt to shut anyone up who might speak up and debunk the chain or express displeasure with it or both.

After all, what sort of conscienceless hard-hearted person would DARE say anything under threat of bruising a child's fragile ego or spoil the "fun" and point out why it really isn't all that fun, scary or true?! Like, OMG!

1. Trolls are always pulling this one. The giveaway that it isn't really a scared little kid behind that keyboard is that they refuse to get the message and only continue replicating the same sorts of memes after being given solid info and sources proving them to be bollox. Then when there is an age limit on a site I.E. 14 and up, an 11-year old shouldn't be using the site anyway, let alone to spread hoaxes for giggles and kicks.

2. If it is a real little kid behind the effort, some adult might rally behind in order to beat anyone over the head with the proverbial "You big meannie, this little child was just doing this for fun!"

Oh, really? Then if this little child just wants to tear around cussing and breaking things just for fun, should the public have to put up with this nuisance?

There are things children need to be taught, and a child having fun is no excuse for perpetuating hoaxes, intended or not… fictional kids in memes are evil little things that need to be trounced, but there are times when real children need a bit of guidance, even when it comes to the all but sacred goal of fun...

How about this for an idea? Perhaps one could try encouraging their kid to be creative with stopping memes instead of adding to the problem. The younger they learn not to encourage the spread of hoaxes/spam and why, the better, and the better off their imaginations will be. There are millions of little kids doing things for fun, and as many ways to have fun, without perpetuating lame childish spam.

So don't play the child card. It might intimidate some people into shutting up and others from daring to express themselves at all though they might secretly be exceedingly underwhelmed by this kid's masterpiece which is the same as any other little "I got killed by a chain letter" story or "I just gots an iPad Mini pink, puppy/kitty/whatever by obeying this chain letter!" video anti-chain.

Other excuses are made usually because the memer was koed via emotional brain-slam, and have essentially lost the will-power to resist reposting/sending/reblogging etc.

These examples on the Vanishing Friend chain that rips off a poem by Charles Hanson Towne, not Henson Towne.

"Although I am not a believer in these kind of letters, the message is very powerful. I believe you will all agree with me! Jill"

"Thought I'd forward this one. Good Luck everyone!


That used to be found on BreakTheChain.org, a site that no longer exists.

There are many excuses used for spreading memes, some are added by the people doing the sharing, others may have been written into the meme by its originator.

"Just in case it's true." It can't hurt, can it?" is typical of something included as an instruction within a meme.

Yes, it can. The least damage it can do is annoy someone who receives your email or sees you've reposted a chain on your blog or FB status etc. Especially if it's a downer. The worst it can do is almost unfathomable because hoaxers are always managing to stoop to new levels of low in their schemes.

It is always better to look up anything you see in memes instead of passing them along "just in case." Trolls count on your feeling guilty enough about not sharing that hoax so that you will give into their scare-mongering and coercion, and do exactly what they want you to do. These are people who should be let down.

If anything, it's best to avoid sharing any meme, just in case, whether or not it may contain some truth. Partly true or just anecdotal, you know there's still a risk of putting off some readers.

Face it. If you know it's a meme, then you must also know that it has already been re-shared six ways from Sunday, and you are really not contributing anything special by adding to the repitition.

"I don't usually do these, but this one is a must read!" "I hate chain letters, but just had to send this on!" "I normally detest email forwards, Myspace bulletins or blog memes but..." "I'm sorry if this offends you but I just had to share." "I know you'll probably get mad at me for reposting this but it's important!" "I know you hate these things but I just had to share!"

If you really hate chain letters so much, why on earth would you send/repost one? If you thought the recipient would get put out, you should've held on to that thought and chosen not to replicate it. Half-baked excuses and apologies beforehand, neatly shown at the top of a meme don't make it any more acceptable and any less inconsiderate. It's enough to make one want to scream, especially if it turns out to be a good luck wish chain, joke or hoax or anything that insults one's intelligence or character.

The truth is the same for you as for anyone else who falls for reposting schemes, and saying how much you usually hate chain letters doesn't cancel out the fact you just failed your own standard because a chain letter got you, hard, right in the heart. This hits a particularly sour note when included in the meme itself or added in by the re-poster is something like "If this doesn't pull at your heart, you have no soul!" Right after an explanation about why they usually rant about chain letters for being narrow-minded. Yeah sure...

"I always put a personal note at the top so they know I'm talking to them."

That doesn't matter. You still spread a meme which is a chain letter. Adding a personal note - doesn't make it any less of one.

Here's a suggestion, Write a personal note without including a meme, you don't need it to help you write your friends personally and stay in touch.

"But I don't really believe all the chain curse stuff, I just liked the joke/poem/sayings etc."

That is what's called the 'hook' and it is the big manipulation. Give you a tasty carrot so you'll pass it along with the stick as well. It's still a meme, and you won't be the first or last person who was impressed enough by the joke or poem or whatever to share it, with or without the curse crap still attached. Whether you believe the curse stuff or not, sharing it without thoroughly trashing it makes you appear to believe it like a gullible schmuck.

"But I cut out all the chain letter crap and then make sure only to send the joke/poem/etc. to certain people."

That doesn't matter. If you got it from a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend etc. It's still a meme... There's no way to un-meme it again once it has become one. The only thing to do then is to stop re-sharing, no matter what the content or how much it moved you. There are plenty of other resources to look to for inspiration, humor etc. that are not viral net-cloggers trying to get mass-produced.

One way to be sure you're not contributing to the meme net-clog is to Google it. Take some key phrase or words within it and Google it. If you see the same story, joke, etc. as the one now tempting you to share, on a myriad of web pages, that should set off warning bells. It is a chain letter. Chances are at least someone on your contact list will have already received it, they don't need to get it again from you or anyone else.

Trending viral videos, jokes, and lists of advice on how to live life and what sort of attitude to have, are notorious for cropping up everywhere within a certain time period.

This is why some of us have grown absolutely sick of the same cartoon or list of pithy sayings after getting them 5 times from 5 different friends within 3 weeks.

The most commonly complained about memes are the political rants and jokes, and fraudulent religious memes, while the least disliked, widely beloved are viral non-political jokes, about-you questionnaires, blog awards, and anything with cute animal pics in them. It is common and infernally annoying that people who rant about political or religious fraud memes, still love other types of chain letters. This blogger who loves lolcats, for example.

Regina Brett did write the column 45 Lessons Life Taught Me You can see the original here.

but she is not 90 years old. She turned 50 in 2006, and wrote a sequel of life lesson suggestions in The Plain Dealer.

Yes, that matters.

Because if we're supposed to let one little meme lie off the hook, it gets so much easier to let all the other lies go unchecked as well.

Ms. Brett deals with the viral lie about her age in an ingenius and most entertaining blog entry.

Erma Bombeck did write on the things she would do differently if she could live her life over, but not as she was dying and not because of cancer, which wasn't the cause of her death.

Pamela Redmond Satran, Not Maya Angelou, Hillary Clinton or Jesse Jackson, wrote the piece titled 30 Things Every Woman Should Have And Should Know By the Time She's 30.

Brian Moore, a Christian teen who died in an accident, did not write The Room. The real author is Joshua Harris.

Maya Angelou did not pen the I Am A Christian piece, that was Carol Wimmer. You can read the poem in its original form here on her site.

Edith Burns was not a real person, she was a fictional character in a story written by Russell Kelfer. Each of

these examples, minus any chain letter demands attached, have merit because authorship is verified.

However, what happens all too often with stories as they go viral is they become part of coercive chain letters that make some sort of demand to be passed around, putting the recipient in an unwelcome tight spot.

Besides, so many gushy meme stories are absolute downers, and it really gets to be a drag getting this heart-string-yanking schlock which tends to put a real damper on a good day.

If you really want to share the hopelessly bad jokes, inspirational goopy life lesson stories etc. all you have to do is let your friends know what your favorite sites are that contain this sort of content, and they can go there at their own leisure if that's what they're into.

"But it's real, I checked." "It isn't animation or photoshop." "It's a real person in that video."

So? There are real people in TV commercials too, including adds that look like amature video but turn into viral hoaxes about making popcorn with cell phones. Maybe the people are real, but the setup might not be. Even if it is real, if it's been re-shared all over the place, it's still a meme because it's viral and it's circulating like wild fire. If you got it once, you'll probably get it again from someone else, several times over, within a very short time. That is what happens with viral videos and funny cute pictures that are trending. And man, that gets very annoying, very fast!

There are even memes out there that make excuses for spreading them.

"Somtetimes a viral email turns out to be true."

I don't care. You still shouldn't share it.

Instead, people need to go after and debunk every left wing meme they find, with the same neurotic ferver the left has been going after memes from the right. After 8 long years of Obama, and the non-left being the laughing stock of the net due to chain letters, the tide finally started turning, and the left really can't handle it. They want that chain-spreading redneck-type conservative around to laugh at and help promote the lie that the left has a monopoly on truth. The left really doesn't want their chain letters being called out for what they are.

The "Fake News" Meme Part 1

The "Fake News" Meme Part 2

When confronted with the truth about chain letters, forwarders may and do become defensive and make excuses for their forwards, and/or completely ignore responses that debunk the forwards because somehow that just isn't as important to them as passing on junk that tells them to. A lot of people do this, and it can drive more jaded netizens to think seriously about getting off the internet altogether.

"Okay, I'll never send you another joke/inspirational story/etc again!"

Translation: 'I'm so hurt that you didn't like this email, that you actually had the audacity to question its validity, that you caught me in the act of re-sharing nonsense memes when here I thought I was doing you and all my friends this great service and injecting a little inspiration, laughter or something really super deep into your lives! I'm so mad at you for shattering my illusions and my pride has been so crushed that I won't ever speak to you again! I'll just go on sending this crap to everyone else who won't be honest enough to set the record straight and bruise my ego all over again!'

It's a memer's tantrum when they find out their friend-of-a-friend re-posts are just chain letters that have been everywhere, are more likely to be bogus than true, and when looked at rationally instead of through the emotional forwarding fog, are not so amazing and profound after all.

A recipient of a forward from an animal rights/welfare environmentalist got heck from her over his decision not to pass it along. Her reaction is typical of some forwarders and many green activists and it is ludicrous.

This is a good demonstration of memer furor when they learn not everybody is in love with their junk chain letter sending.

"What’s the matter… you didn’t like MY link. Well, good thing this is a mailing list. I can say any demned thing I want to you and I can post any demn thing I want. Don’t like it? Get your thumb out of your arse and hit “delete” when you see email from me."

Too many people, especially those in general agreement with at least some of the belief-systems of their forwarding friends, are put out with memes, but instead of saying anything, they put up with them in suffering silence, afraid of losing the already tenuous communications and friendship which has already been seriously undermined by habitual spreading of the memes.

Memers go as far as to accept half-truths and lies from chain letters, lies they would never put up with from anyone personally, all for the greatest of all great causes: "to get the message out!"

"Okay so it isn't technically true, but that doesn't matter, just as long as we get this important message sent out!"

It doesn't matter that it isn't true? It - Doesn't *Matter!?*

Besides the fact that if you use that excuse, it makes you look like a raging hypocrite as well as a fool, Here's a very small example of why technical truth and 100% accuracy does matter.

Suppose I was caught on camera, saying something like "I like killing things in video games." Someone who disliked me could clip out the "in video games" part, put up a video on Youtube with a caption "Capri likes killing things, here it in her own words!" with a clip of me saying just that "I like killing things" and that alone.

Then it could go viral, with everybody who believes in forwards, under the mistaken idea that I like killing things.

But the technical truth doesn't matter...Just as long as the message about my apparent violent and dangerous personality gets out there, which, also happens to be a lie.

"Getting the message sent out" does not cut it for justifying sending false chain letters, especially from people who claim to be interested in getting to the truth...

Speak out, even as gently as possible, with a link to back up why the meme isn't the amazing cosmic snowflake the duped were led to believe, and this is what happens.

The meme-lovers do one or any combination of these. Completely ignoring your request to stop, and they keep on spamming anyway. Or they become defensive, simply abandon you as a friend, ignore and completely stop sending messages to you altogether, or all of these, in that order.

Clearly, in cyberspace, and especially in the realm of "friendship", joke, and cause memes, it is treated as an absolute sin to expose the viral lies and phoniness for what it is. To them, nothing says "I LOVE YOU!" quite like a chain letter! So, we absolutely must be careful not to offend a memer, although our own principles, feelings, friendships as well as the truth will suffer, they are unimportant...

A lot of people are indifferent, or sick of it but too afraid to speak up for fear of hurting the memer's feelings and possibly getting nixed as a friend.

So spare the excuses. Memes are spam, not a legitimate medium for spreading any kind of information, love, friendship, warnings, news, or ideology.

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