Switters’ Blog

Think before you forward

Posted by switters on August 18, 2007

There is (or at least should be) a special place in hell for people who forward alarmist e-mails to everyone they know without bothering to stop and think about the content. It’s as if, intimidated by the incredible computing power of the machines at their fingertips, they simply disengage their own mental facilities.

I’m sure everyone reading this knows what I’m talking about: “the tax on e-mail,” “the boy who is collecting postcards, the “Pepsi-terrorist connection,” “Bill Gates is giving away his fortune,” and of course the thousands of missing children (many of whom are only missing in the sense that they never existed).

In the BEST case, these e-mails are a tremendous waste of time and energy (think of the cumulative amount of time spent reading, forwarding, or even just deleting all these e-mails and imagine that all that time was actually put toward something productive!).

In the worst case, however, they can actually do more harm than good. I made this argument in a post on Sayville.com and here’s another example.

Maybe you’ve seen an e-mail which ostensibly seeks to keep the memory of the holocaust alive in the face of threats such as the UK’s decision to remove “The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it “offended” the Moslem population which claims it never occurred.” The e-mail continues on about the “ six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with the German and Russia peoples looking the other way!”

I don’t know who started this e-mail, but if you wanted to create a piece of propaganda to be used by holocaust deniers, this is a pretty good start. When a message begins with a statement that is easily verifiable as being false and contains exaggerated/misleading statistics, it calls the validity of the entire text into question. This e-mail makes it very easy for holocaust deniers to say “look: THIS is a like, and THIS is a lie, so how can we believe any of what these people say?”

Teaching of the holocaust was NOT banned in the UK. A Google search for the terms teaching, holocaust, banned, and UK turns up 630,000 hits like this one: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/6563429.stm.

20 million Russians were not killed in the holocaust, they were killed in battle. While you might say that I’m splitting hairs here since either way they were killed by the Nazis, the problem is that by blurring the line between battlefield deaths (however horrific) and deaths via concentration camps it becomes easier to dismiss the loss of six million Jews as just being casualties of war. As far as the “10 million Christians” figure, I have no idea where that comes from.

The shame of it is that it takes a few minutes to verify the truth of an e-mail before forwarding it, and it is actually possible to (god forbid!) learn something in the process. Most of the time it’s as easy as pasting the subject line of the e-mail into Google’s search box. Failing that, sites like Snopes.com or  About.com’s urban legends page usually have the true story.

Advertisements

8 Responses to “Think before you forward”

  1. dakeeper said

    You left out Sayville.com- I always go there for the truth- then again I’m just a hard-up bitch….

    Are these similar to the ‘African citizen needs help in accessing bank acount monies with your help’ emails? Does anyone respond to these things? I once emailed one back with a joke and they actually responded- and they were serious….

  2. switters said

    Are these similar to the ‘African citizen needs help in accessing bank acount monies with your help’ emails?

    Not at all. Those e-mails actually provide a very valuable public service. You see, there are some people in this world who are too stupid to have money, but by luck or accident find themselves with more of it than they need. Usually they just waste it on things like Celine Dion CD’s or decorative flags to adorn their McMansions. But sometimes they use their money to purchase dangerous items like lawn darts, fireworks, and Hummers. The Nigerian “scams” are actually carefully designed to help separate lower functioning humans from their money before they can use it to hurt themselves or others.

  3. hibbityjibbity said

    I have very few people I know forward me any crap like that. Most of them know my reaction so they do not bother to send them to me, cause if I get them next time I see them I will most likely slap them for wasting my time and theirs reading it.

    Bill Gates giving away his fortune, never saw any spam emails on that but, he is leaving his legacy mostly to his foundation with a portion going to family, as is Warren Buffet. I am not sure this can be called giving it away, but most of those fortunes will go to foundations and charities.

    Anyone that falls for those money laundering scams, theft I hate to say they deserve it, but well they do in most circumstances.

  4. aquariuscook said

    lighten up guys if it werent for those emails we wouldnt know about kentucky fried chicken growing chickens in test tubes. j/k

  5. JS said

    DK said “African citizen needs help in accessing bank acount monies with your help’ emails? Does anyone respond to these things? I once emailed one back with a joke and they actually responded- and they were serious….”

    JS says “Do not check this out unless you have too much time on your hands, you have a good sense of humor, and a box of tissues handy for laughing so hard your eyes tear.

    http://www.ebolamonkeyman.com/index.html

  6. switters said

    JS,

    That is FUNNY stuff. I didn’t have time to read the whole thing, but I will go back to it.

  7. dakeeper said

    I was reading some of that and it was good- I once sent a reply to one of those idiots and they replied but I let it go.

  8. dakeeper said

    I was reading some of that and it was good- I once sent a reply to one of those idiots and they replied but I let it go.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: