Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bloody vikings

Spam. It's one of those things we have to live with - a heavy price we pay for the wondrous thing that is email. I seem to have stopped getting offers of penile enhancement and mostly find my inbox filled with stock tips these days. Occasionally I'm asked for my banking details, but since there's rarely any money in my bank account, they wouldn't do the spammers much good. Cheap medications from Canada are another favourite, but the Welsh Assembly Government is about to abolish all prescription charges for people resident in Wales, so the spammers will have to come up with some pretty cheap deals to beat that.

Generally speaking, my spam filters work well. I've finally sorted out the historic problem of the old DevilDog website mailto: addresses, too, which means I no longer get sixteen copies of the same spam all at once. But there is one kind of spam that I cannot filter, cannot get rid of, and dislike with an almost hate-like fervour. And that's spam from friends.

You know the kind of email. It's usually harmless, sometimes mildly amusing. It doesn't try to sell you anything - mind you, a lot of spam doesn't. But it always ends the same way. Send this email to ten of your friends in the next twenty-four hours, and good luck will smile upon you. Fail to send it on, and your reproductive organs will wither, your car will be repossessed, your cat will die, you'll be forced to watch football until your eyes bleed. You'll get a hang nail, and then another. Bad things will happen to you.

I usually get these emails from my sister, and they always come with a huge list of cc: addresses attached. This, I guess, is the point of them - they allow canny spammers to harvest large numbers of email addresses, simply because people are too lazy to use the bcc: function. These emails always die with me - I'm an old humbug and never pass them on. And besides, I don't think I know ten people I could send them to if I wanted to.
But what irks me most about them is the way they pander to base superstition.

Most of us (I would say all, but that would be foolish) are fairly rational. We know that there's no such thing as magic. We might wish there was, but deep down, we understand that the world works in a reasonably predictable way. And yet we read horrorscopes, consult the Tarot, guddle around in sheep's entrails to read the future. And sometimes we believe it when total strangers tell us that good things will happen if we pester ten of our friends.

Or at least, we want to believe it. And we really don't want to have the nasty stuff happen. So, just in case...

This rantette has been prompted, as you may have guessed, by a recently received email of this type. The person who sent it may well read this blog, and all I can say to them is don't sweat it. I don't hate you for doing it, I won't snub you or cut you down, even if you send me more in the future. It is, as they say, no biggy. The email contained a fairly amusing message pertinent to earlier discussions we had been having, so I can see why it was sent. But why not cut and paste the funny bit into a fresh email, with a short 'saw this and thought of you' at the top, and cut out all the superstitious nonsense?

I know the power of these messages. They prey on your mind. Everyone wants a bit of good luck, and nobody wants their dangly bits to fall off (I hope). I worry a little that bad things are on my way because I killed this last one, but I'll forget it in a day or two.

Until the next one drops into my inbox.


Blogger Trace said...

I hate those chain emails. Hate 'em. I agree with you, cut that last part out and if somebody wants to forward it on, they can. Sheesh!

June 30, 2006 2:13 pm  

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