Swearing Off Chain Letters

This rant was posted MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 2012 and is from THE CRANKY NEW YORKER.

It is posted in part, because I liked some of it, not others, and didn't care about the extraneous stuff. Also, it is a timeless message, not just for New Year's. :)

So, you get the important stuff in the following.



I do solemnly swear not to forward any chain letters of any kind to my beloved family and friends, acquaintances and colleagues.

I hate chain letters. Really. I hate them. I know you do too. I mean, who starts these things anyway? Do they just go around and around in circles? Is there a point at which they just stop? Do the same people get them all the time? Has anyone ever actually had a tangible improvement in their life post sending one? So many questions. So few answers. But one consistent feeling. Hate. We all hate them! I got one the other day. Second one in a month from the same person. She must hate me - right? I think so. I told her (no names of course Keri), not to do it anymore. The entire concept of chain letters is completely unnerving to me because I am incredibly superstitious and riddled with Jewish guilt. So not only are they annoying to begin with, for me it's a double burden. First, I feel completely guilty not sending them because I'm certain I will be the only one to break the chain. (Oh, and by the way - same for those silly recipe and book buying clubs for those of you have been sending those - oops, I didn't send on). Second, I am convinced that if I don't send them on, I will be the victim of some terrible circumstance, like having the Ronald McDonald float at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade knock over a light post and land on my head (also horrific because I'm terrified of clowns). Rationally speaking we all know chain letters don't work, and that they have no real relevance. But it's unfair to send a chain letter to an obsessive compulsive, abnormally superstitious, guilt-prone person like me. It's just plain mean.

So today, I have decided to break the cycle. I am done with them! So, to you who sent it to me the other day - hear me now. The buck stops here. You can no longer prey on my guilt and my devout superstitiousness to proliferate your karma Ponzi scheme and manifest your hypothetical good luck. You are on your own. And, by the way, I don't believe that the simple act of pressing "forward" on your outlook or share on your FB, and then pasting in eight names of people who you think won't mind that you have tagged/sent it to them, will bring you good luck. And, FYI, we do mind. All eight of us. So DELETE me from your "chain letter distribution list." And for those of you who have me on your list as well, take me off - because I will not be your good energy mule. And for all of you who have been on my list in the past, you are off.

Ah, the list. So interesting. When I got the email the other day it got me thinking. How sweet - she always thinks of me for these things. She must really want me to have good luck. Hardly. She had the same thought I did... Crap. Crap. Crap. I can't be the one to end this thing - this, THIS is bigger than me. This is karma we're talking about. Crap. Who am I going to send this to...? It has to be the exact list of people who won't block me from future communication because they are so annoyed that I sent it to them. So, hmm. Well, first, it can include that group that always sends them to me, ex the one who just sent it to me - annoying. Second, it should definitely have that element of people who are big enough suckers that they will continue to perpetuate the myth of the letter. And third, most importantly, it can be people who like me, but don't really hear from me that much - so they'll be happy just to hear from me no matter what the content. Ah yes, my friend. I know why you put me on that list. So here's a tip, I am NOT excited to hear from you. I don't really care. If you want to send me an email, in the future, give me something to chew on. Something with substance.

And so, this allows me to address one of my biggest problems with email and social networking in general. It's too easy. It breeds no character, and it makes communication, good or bad, too simple. Think of how many things you might not have said if you hadn't had immediate access to email in order to vent your frustrations. Think of how many controversial emails and social media posts you saw that you weren't supposed to, until the sender accidentally hit "reply all" or made their post public. And think of how much nicer, how much more subtle and respectful all of those conversations might have been in person, if you had had to see them face to face in order to say what you wanted to say. Of course I am not saying I don't love email. I do. I love it. Hate chain letters, love email. After all, I would be stuck in this corner of the world alone and talking pretty much only to myself, stuck with all these thoughts roaming around my head if I couldn't access you all so readily. Twitter and Facebook, love em. But with the good, comes the bad and the annoying. Chain letters, they are annoying. Imagine what would have happened to the chain letter if you still had to Xerox them (yes, I used the word Xerox), write out eight actual envelopes, stamp and mail them. The answer is, they would be dead. Who in the world would go through all that trouble. Certainly not the internet generation. If you said to a young kid today that you were going to mail a chain letter - you'd be dead in the modern world.

So, what can I do to improve the world today? what can I do to make an impact? Kill the chain letter. That's right, we all know it would make people happy. Out with the occupy wall street movement, and in with the kill the chain letter movement. It's a portable kind of movement and you don't even have to leave your house to fulfill its mission. All you have to do, is do nothing. It's perfect! Do nothing. Just don't forward those letters. Let's simplify our lives and give ourselves one less thing to do.

I would like to appeal to your good senses. I urge you to make a commitment to make other people's lives easier and not prey on those more superstitious than ourselves. No more chain letters. And if you send them to me, you can bet it's going nowhere... I will not pass it on. This house of cards ends with me.



Simply doing nothing isn't good enough. It doesn't stop the memes. unfortunately, Nothing seems to. But at least expressing yourself is better than keeping it all in, and making it so that others can read it and think twice before spreading that meme, just might make some small difference. This blogger has already done that, and it is much better than nothing.


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