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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Don’t Make Me Snopes Ya

You wouldn’t know it, necessarily, to look at me, but I’m kind of a kill-joy.

I haven’t always been that way; but dagnab it anyhow, the e-mail chains have got to stop.

What do you mean “what e-mail chains”? Well, sure, I could list them here: the perfume-spraying kidnapper, the headlight-flashing gang initiations, the incredibly funny whatzit that goes dancing across your screen if you’ll just forward the e-mail in question to several hundred people...

But I’m not going to do that.

What I would like to talk about, however, is my inability to just shut up and let the people who seem to know no better –friends and relatives, yet! – continue to forward these things as if they are true.

As if their having been written – and subsequently forwarded – somehow makes them true.

Now why in the world would anyone just accept, whole cloth, things that are contraindicated by common sense?

I have a thing about the truth. Once I know what it is, I can’t let it go.

Me and facts? Good friends. While I freely admit to a host of misconceptions and preferences, once I’ve seen the light, I can never go back. Works with friends, jobs, the distinctions between butter and margarine, mayonnaise and salad dressing: I can be gullible, but once I know the facts?

It’s all over now, baby blue.

And so for years now I have been one of those who receives the e-mail, goes to Snopes to check on it, and then does a “respond all” to everyone who received the e-mail with me.

Surprisingly enough, not everyone is appreciative of this.

“Sheesh, Pearl, why do you have to ruin it for everyone?”

Ruin it? Ruin it. Indeed, why in the world would we let facts get in the way of an urban legend? What the hell! Let's just let this sucker circulate the globe a couple more times!

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the story of the man with the hook for a hand or the dead hitchhiker with the folded sports jacket at her headstone as much as the next guy. That’s one thing. But when we start accepting, as true, things that are not, we’ve entered into new territory.

Forewarned is forearmed. Don’t send me the forwards of the forward of the forward. I check forwarded e-mails. And I report back.

38 comments:

IB said...

I get a lot of the "Feel good" chain emails. You know, the kind that remind us to appreciate the little things in life; to "stop and smell the roses", and then forward the message on to all our friends and loved-ones, or else risk the devastation of the rain forest and all the indigenous peoples therein..

I hate that shit.

mbuna53 said...

Good job Pearl! Keep on Snopesing. I hate those e-mail chains as much as you do.

Pearl said...

IB, you and me both, brother. I mean, I appreciate that ya thought of me, that I'm "special", but why the threat at the end? You know? "Do this or else this will happen". Well guess what? I delete every single one of them every time. (I kid around that I'm "asking for it", but superstition has no power in my life).

Mbuna, I know you're with me! It's amazing really -- the further we "progress", the more some of us cling to the old wives' tales and the doom and gloom -- and the supposed control we can have over it if we do not do certain things. I don't recommend driving through some areas late at night, but I also don't recomment living in fear... Why do I suddenly miss the Dark Ages? Somebody burn me a witch!

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Once, this girlfriend of mine sent me a forwarded email about gangs painting the numbers on public phones with a mixture of strychine and LSD.

Shaking my head, I responded with a "reply all" and went through talked about the LC50s of both strychnine and LSD, discussed their structures and then reported on their lack of absorbance through skin, especially the skin on your fingertips which doesn't produce as much oils as the rest of your skin and how this would affect fat-soluble molecules and their absorbing properties.

I ended the email with "and besides, only a complete effing idiot would believe this crap."

Never heard back from the girlfriend.

@eloh said...

Oh man, does this push my buttons or what. Send me a hundred forwards with colds? flu? herpes? But never bother to write a note. Oh sorry, I had to block some stuff evidently I messed something up, well I'll try to fix it...NOT.

And the oh you are my friend and I love you and look at the flowers and now send this out to ten people and make sure I one of them...DELETE

powdergirl said...

Atta girl Pearl!
The worst one for me are the religious ones, though I hate em' all.
They do more for keeping me off the straight and narrow than does tequila forchrissake.
And when you get this crap from people you had previously suspected of having some common sense?
It boggles the mind.

Mandy's Kidding said...

I Snopes people too, and no one ever replies back.

Huh.

That Baldy Fella said...

Ah, I'm very much with you on this. Long live the Snopes, I say!

Joanie M said...

I check stories out on snopes too, sometimes. Especially when someone is supposed to be reported missing.
I received one that was supposed to be a young man who was missing. His mother was a secretary at a neighboring school district. The missing son was a fraud, but the woman really does work for the school district.

Jodie Kash said...

Amen, sister. The last I got (just yesterday) was about your phone company selling your cell number to the evil marketers who will callandcallandcall and rack up billions of dollars in charges on your phone!!!

Oi to vey.

I’m with ya all on the feel good shit. No more old lady saggy boobs cartoons about aging vaginas or kittens wearing pith helmets, k?

Kavi said...

The feel good mails, over here, have a 'feel bad' component..

For they have this component which clearly states that if you dont forward it to 10 /15/20 people evil will befall you..

Well, that really sounds sour...doesnt it...

La Belette Rouge said...

I HATE 99.999% of forwarded emails. I even cringe when I get the baby animal pictures. But once I get to looking at the baby animal pictures I usually melt but other than that I just delete. I will not forward it to seven other people even if you threaten me with something bad happening if I don't.

Susan said...

I have smote many, many friends by refusing to forward yippy yappy happy emails. So glad to hear someone speak the truth!!

ladyfi said...

I hear ya! Those feel good chain letters - blah! And worse of all, the ones that say you won't have good luck if you don't forward it to 25 singing gnomes in the South Pacific are the worse! It's old suspicion in the new clothing of technology.

Under the Influence said...

I do the same thing with Snopes and e-mail. Besides, if I am going to wake up in a bathtub with "you have AIDS" written in lipstick on the mirror, I don't want any warning!

Jess said...

You are my HERO! I do the same damn thing! Did it this morning actually! Then it started this whole Snopes back and forth thing...all the way from gas stealing gas stations to cell phones causing gas station fires to tornado and lighting pictures that have been photoshopped. Oh it was a rambunctious morning!

Eskimo Bob said...

Snopes is the faux news of the internet. It shuts down otherwise important stories that need to get out to the masses!

Pearl - you're fallin' into appeasing 'The MAN'. We're just trying to make our little place called Earth a better place. . .

Looks like I'll have to start going door-to-door and calling folks at 6:30 PM to undo what you've done with your "pro-active" reporting. . .

Pearl - don't just trust Snopes, it's a lie. For more information you can contact my Aunt Millie; or maybe you can talk to your data analyst in Social Services; another reliable source in Merlene down at the corner store.

nsiyer said...

I agree .I detest the forwards. Especially the ones about 'if you don't, ill luck will befall you'. Crap, the senders have no other work.

Michelle said...

I always get the ones that say I am a millionaire!

How can i resist Pearly-Q??

Amber Star said...

I swear you must be my long lost little sister, because I feel just the same way you do. And I do just the same as you...go to Snopes read that it is patently false and copy/paste it onto the frikkin' email and send it back.
I'm sure this endears me to lots of people, but it just bothers me that wrong information is being sent to everyone in the world, and espcially if it says if I don't send it in x amount of time all sorts of dire things will befall me and my family unto the seventh generation.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

huh! I never forward those and I also have a few 'words' with the sender for cluttering my inbox!!!

Douglas said...

It appears that we are not alone, Pearlie-Q. Few appreciate us, alas.

mjenks, I can attest to the fact that LSD can be absorbed through the skin. However, it would take much more time and contact than one would get making a phone call. In fact, the first "trip" was initiated that way.

Gigi said...

nice post.

Not The Rockefellers said...

I am death, the destroyer of hug chains...

I have confronted my Ma and asked her if she really believed all of the "Be careful" FWD's she sends...

She plays it cool..I just thought you'd get a kick out of it and maybe blog about it...she says

She's taken it upon herself to send me every little tidbit she's stumbled across. "This would make a great blog" She's also taken upon the role of editor.

"You were a little forward in some of your comments"

But she's always done this, Be it funnies or coupons she clipped and mailed to me "Thought you'd like"

Or articles on the Sponge contraceptive or those tampons that caused toxic shock "You aren't using??!!" written on a little piece of memo pad paper.

With her now having access to bucket loads of information, I directed her to snopes to which she replied, "How can I trust them?"

So the FWDs continue and if it makes Ma feel like she's doing good...well it's all good then.

Peace - Rene

KMcJoseph said...

It is kind of dissapointing that there is no suicidal munchkin in the Wizard of Oz.

a mouthy irish woman? ridiculous! said...

i dream about hitting "reply all" and saying something dirty about animal husbandry and give it a whole new meaning.

instead i just say kiss off and hit delete.

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

I don't even open anything thats forwarded, anymore... if it's good enough to send it's good enough to cut and paste...

Diane said...

Oh man, I totally do the same thing. I HATE forwards in general and it drives me nuts when people just send them on without checking at all. My mother gets them and then a couple of weeks later, she's all, "Oh yes, I read that (insert whatever bit of 'fact' was most recently forwarded)!" I say, "Where did you read it, Mom?" "Oh, in the news somewhere..." Riiiiiiiiiiight. Then I call her down like the crap forwarding culprit she is. Grrrr.

mapstew said...

'But when we start accepting as true, things that are not, we've entered into new territory.'

Who needs e-mail chains when ya got the catholic church to contend with?

Good post. xxx

fingers said...

I loved the one with the photo of the labrador puppy with a gun to its head and the message 'Forward this to ten people or the puppy gets it.'
Shame I hate labradors...

Lisa said...

yep, totally with you on this one Pearl

Chris @ Maugeritaville said...

I do the same thing...I can't resist sending out the "you gullible maroon" email.

Though I'm still waiting for Dinesh Khamenjakmeoff to deposit that five million in my bank account.

kimber p said...

omg..I do the SAME THING!!! I can't stand those stupid chain emails with dire consequences or stupid claims so I go right to Snopes, and forward it to all the idiots who forwarded that other crap to everyone on that list....common sense will rule one day if I have anything to say about it, I swear!!

Warty Mammal said...

I have used the power of Snopes on two people/organizations.

1. An aide to a local congressman who used to come to a business organization I frequented. He brought reams of paper to one meeting. The top sheet concerned the plight of poor little Craig Shergold, then recommended that one send him postcards, change the name and address on the form letter, xerox all of the other form letters, then give the resulting stack to all of one's friends.

The thing which amazed me was the utter credulity of everyone who received this crap. Why, of COURSE one should copy this whole fricken' stack of paper, which, if one analyzed the lower portions, had been in circulation for years. As I told the group, even if this WASN'T a hoax, Shergold would either be dead or grown.

They were disturbed. This was awful! Why would anyone do this to them? I also think they were upset with me for ruining their fantasy of helping the poor little boy with cancer.


2. My father. He sent me one chain letter too many, this time with some bigoted political crap I found offensive. I debunked it rather traumatically, writing his entire circle of friends with references including Snopes.

"Who is this Snopes?" he asked querulously, "How do I know I can trust Snopes any more than I can trust the people who send me emails?"

Sigh. Gee, I dunno. Why should we trust people who cite references rather than people who send us hackneyed stories which came from heaven knows where?

He was so traumatized that he changed his email address and vowed to never forward on another chain letter. Alas, I think this took away a major source of pleasure in his life. He hasn't been quite the same since then.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I am so in agreement! I fail to see the humor in sending dire threats to someone they purportedly like, ie I will die a horrible death by noon tomorrow if I fail to forward it to everyone I know in three seconds. And urban legends are just that, legends. Not history lessons. It gets old.

Pearl said...

heartsinsanfrancisco, I am both fascinated by the perpetuation of lies and horrified. Wonder if all cultures have problems with that?

Aria said...

Common Sense and Fact are rare commodities on the internet; and more so in forwarded emails

Adrian's Crazy Life said...

Oh man, I hate those things too. I've been known to do the Snopes and reply all thing too. The ones I really hate come in two varieties - the sappy, syrupy I'm sending this (prayer, angel, blessing, teddy bear, flower) to you because you're my most wonderful friend. Or the ones that say you need to send this to X people or your house will burn down, the cat will die or your car will get wrecked within the next 24 hours. Why would you send these awful things to someone who is supposed to be your friend?

The only ones I ever send on are the really funny ones or the ones with really cool pictures. Things I think people will really enjoy.