Chain of Fools

In the digital world, fast is the only word that matters. We want our news fast. Our e-mails fast. Our movie tickets, restaurant reviews, IMs, and television shows streamed- fast, fast, fast, fast. With access to endless gadgets to satisfy our lust for knowledge, we often unknowingly enter a race where ‘first’ isn’t always the desired place.

Just say, “NO.” to chains. Do it in separate languages if needed.

Enter the chain letter. Ever since we can remember, our online identities have encountered them. They range from the messages of hope and inspiration made to brighten your day to the Sent to everyone on your aunt’s (or mom’s) email address book, as a 15 part text message forwarded from China, and even our social networks. Bad grammar aside, we take these messages for what they’re worth (I mean, it came from my first grade best friend!), and pass them on in fear of the consequences located near the end. There’s always a consequence. Someone likely falls victim to a chain message about every 1.8 seconds. Because I care, I will offer a couple of tips to make sure it isn’t you:

  • Got common sense? Use it. If Bill Gates wanted to pay 5 cents for every email sent in the name of Insert Sick Kiddington, he’d probably go for something a bit grander than an email whose origin can’t be found. If Mark Zuckerberg wanted to introduce some kind of pricing structure for Facebook, he wouldn’t rely on a bunch of people to spread the word and make your profile change color just to prove you did it. Not when he has access to your personal contact information, favorite movies and music, and brand preferences.
  • Doesn’t sound right? Fact-check it. When you come across the latest rumor on your smartphone, tablet, or netbook, why not perform a quick search to check the legitimacy before just copying and pasting? The latest Facebook rumor started with the words “it was even on the news.” Whose news? Where is the proof?  Google is your friend. Snopes is your friend. Bookmark them on your fancy gadgets and race to know the truth before you post blindly. 
  • Is it in all caps? Probably a bust. No grownup should use all capital letters when relaying a message that’s meant to be taken seriously. Traditionally, an all caps message meant the sender is yelling at you, but today, it’s likely not the case. Something about any text written in all capitals makes me want to automatically skip over it, convinced the sender hates me from head to . The same could be said for horrible grammar, nonexistent punctuation, and the Comic Sans typeface.  

When all else fails, you can just say no to the chain. That little girl’s ghost WILL NOT haunt you at 11:11 if you don’t forward. Your true love WILL NOT suddenly awaken from a stupor and make your world a happily ever after one. Long lost Nigerian relatives DO NOT have a sudden fortune bequeathed to you solely. Surprisingly, the world continues to go on as if these outcomes have no impact. Perhaps the world is onto something.

You know what, though? The chain can end with you. Stop the foolishness.

Don’t Be a Link to the Chain(s),

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