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Thursday, February 19, 2009


I’ve never been superstitious. My mother took care of that at an early age.

“This,” she declared, opening a chain letter at the kitchen table, “is a chain letter. Never forward these. If you do, terrible things will happen to you. The last person to forward a chain letter had something vague and unnecessary happen and it changed her life.”

OK, maybe she didn’t say that exactly, but she did throw it away, grumbling under her breath about “wasting stamps” and “superstitious garbage”.

That’s always stuck with me.

In those days, a chain letter was, really, a letter. It came to your house disguised as a personal letter, someone wondering about your life, as opposed to the waste of paper that it really was.

Of course, chain mail no longer comes in the real mail; and in the same way the envelope it used to come in looked like it might be something good, the subject line of the e-mail that now comes to your inbox suggests that it’s equally important.

I throw them away by the megabytes.

“You HAVE to OPEN this!”



Would I lose your respect if I told you I used to actually read these things?

You what? You never --?

Whatever, dude.

But I did. I read them. I read several of them.

And you know what? What chain mail is, despite the new-fangled way of delivering them?

It’s the Middle Ages.

We’ve returned – did we ever leave? – to repeating stories, deep in the woods, the shadows of flames playing on our faces. We’ve returned to believing unsubstantiated tripe regarding friends of friends, of the dangers that befall people when they’re alone, of the reversal of fortunes for those who fail to do as the Fates require, even as it often invokes God Himself.

Either that, or we just like to forward things.


Snooty Primadona said...

I'm getting to where I delete almost everything these days. Those chain letters are so stooopid. The funny thing is, I actually got a real chain letter in the mail about 6 months ago and it sent me into deep shock. It was one that you had to send along lottery tickets. I kept the lottery tickets, won $25 and never passed it on. That'll teach 'em.

Irish Gumbo said...

My dear, methinks we never left off repeating stories! (grin) I think its more obvious now because the technology makes it so easy, and alas, many folks forget to filter the info before pitching it out the door.

Of course, forwarding random crap makes us feel like we've accomplished something in the information age...:) which reminds me I have to get back to my new friend in Nigeria, he really needs some cash...

darsden said...

I thought the song first Pearl... cha cha chain, chain of fools.. cha cha chaaaa chain of fools! LOL don't ya just love when I sing to you Pearl?

I love this "I throw them away by the megabytes" that is hilarious.

I don't like the fwd fwd x 10
either, I delete, delete x 10

Have a great day Pearl :-)

kimber p said...

omg..I do remember getting those stupid chain mail letters and the embarrassing part was my grandma lived with us when we were growing up and she'd make us all sit at the table and help her fulfill the obligation of passing those hideous things on to other family members and friends.
thanks for the laugh, I really needed it today :)

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

There was one that actually featured a story of some guy as it was told by 103.8 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Being from Fort Wayne, Indiana, I knew immediately that there was no 103.8. Also, know how the FCC hands out radio station IDs, I knew that there was no 103.8 anywhere.

I notified the sender of said forward and all the people on her list. What had been a decent friendship evaporated as quickly as my debunking touched her eyeballs.

Apparently, that was the bad luck that befell me for not sending it on.

rachael said...

I remember getting those too.

I sometimes read the chain letters, some of them are charming. I do not forward them though. So far everyone I know still loves me, and a meteor has not fallen on my house because I didn't........

Eskimo Bob said...

I thought the same way. Until I received the letter from "Sam". I changed the name - because enough hurt and pain has been handed out.

This wasn't some supernatural, or some get rich quick scheme that happened. This was something, if read and passed on would ruin families, and weaken communities. The destruction was like a path of a tornado.

It has been reported on MSNBC and The Drudge Report. If you want to learn about it you can Google: Passaquah, WA "A Grandfathers lie".

If you get the e-mail just delete it. Even reading the letter will just cause anxiety, and lead to distrust in others. Forward this on to as many people you care about, so they don't have to experience the pain my family has.

Douglas said...

You mean they aren't true? I am crushed, totally and completely crushed.

Kavi said...

I am planning to forward this post to seven others.

Telling them that if they didnt forward to two people each, some strange illness will fall on texas. Or wherever.

Whatsay !>!

Warty Mammal said...

Lovely title.

iNDefatigable touches upon something I've also observed: many of those who send out chain letters (or urban legends) really don't want to have them debunked. Even when I've imparted facts delicately, I've had people react angrily or incredulously to finding out that no, Craig Shergold really doesn't want to receive postcards anymore; he's all grown up and over his brain cancer now.

There's the humiliation factor of having it revealed that one has believed in hooey, of course. I also think there are people for whom the emotional content of a story, and suspension of disbelief if necessary, are more compelling than facts.

Steve said...

I loathe chain emails. The ones I hate the most are the mawkish ones that try to emotionally blackmail you into clogging up the internet's arteries... forward this to all your friends and let them know you love them because it might be the last thing they ever read... Yeah right. If I want to tell my friends I love them I'll speak to them in person. It's better that way.

Kevin Musgrove said...

I have an arrangement with some superstitious friends that they send me all their chain letters so that I can terminate the flow.

I hate the scaly parasites who write them in the first place.

Joanie said...

I only forward dirty jokes. :)

Ian Lidster said...

Please don't forward to me, OK?

underOvr (aka The U) said...


When I get really bored (almost never), I will indulge myself and read something that came from a recognizable email address. About five sentences into it a question slaps me along my temple, "What the hell are you doing U? I humbly and meekly press DELETE.


Lisa said...

yes, hate them with a passion xx

Not The Rockefellers said...

Thank you Pearl...just thank you.
I will now FWD this to my mother

who constantly reminds me not to:

Park next to vans.
Avoid Starbuck's
Turn on my headlights when flashed.
( Hee, Hee)
Put myself on the cell phone do not call list.
and to be careful of those marijuana flavored lollipops.
(What store was selling those, Ma?, Do you have their address?)

Ma lives for the FWD's.

Glitter Puppies and Roses to you, Pearl! Consider yourself hugged.

Now send this to 8 of your friends.

Peace - Rene

Jeanne said...

Not a big fan of chain letters....

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

Too many sheeple afraid to be alone; looked into the abyss for three seconds, saw it stirr, and beat feet for Lemmingville ( over the last cliff on the right, Missie...)

Cygnus MacLlyr said...


Hi. Gods, you're cute!

O.K., my question is, are they just flavored, or do they have all 420 compounds necessary to...

um, DO YOU have that address? So I can be sure and avoid them, of course. yeah. Avoid...

Chaka said...

Anytime someone sends me an e-mail that begins with "This is real we verified it on Snopes. Please pass it on to all your friends..." I just hit the delete button.

Now e-mails from recently exiled government leaders in Africa that need my help with a money trasaction, that's a different story. There is some potential there.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

Hi! First-timer at your blog!
You totally reminded me of when chain letters used to come in the mail!! I actually remember copying the entire letter as well as the 100 odd names to forward before feeling like a total sucker!!
Nowadays, of course, I just swoop my mouse across the delete button!

I'd like to invite you to visit my blog when you have time!

Ducking Little said...

I actually find chain emails very intreresting from a socioanthropological point of view. A lot of the time they highlight values and fears of our society. Notice how women always have to be on the lookout, and get saved by men... I always look the mail up on Snopes. What a truly great site that is.

Lori Anderson Designs said...

My mom sends me SO. MUCH. of this stuff. Even though I've told her I never read it. Sigh.