Monday, November 05, 2007

No Forward Steps!

By Badphairy

Please stop forwarding e-mails. All of them. I’m serious.

I have 2000 documents in my gmail. At least ¼ of them are mass forwards. I don’t think it’s worth my time to actually read each one, so I just wait until it gets overwhelming and then delete by the page or by the username.

Actually, the stuff from people I expect to get spam from, is fine. I can just delete those when I see them, realizing that I might be missing the Prayer for the Cute Infant of X Species of the Day/Week/Month/Millennium/Era/Multiverse. Fine with me, the cultural overattention to neoteny is nauseating.

People who are so gullible they actually believe the latest Nigerian Prince hoax are what truly make me nuts. How hard is it, REALLY, to enter the first line of any such e-mail into your browser along with the word scam or hoax, and spend all of 1.2 seconds doing your own due diligence? Given that people tend to cluster in age/IQ groups, it’s likely that if you are a dumbass auto-forwarder, at least three of your friends are, too. It’s also quite likely that if you continue in this behavior, those are the friends you will have left after the smarter people get sick of being reminded how easily you are taken in.

I take an extremely dim view of such lack of research. If I want to know something, I’ll just look it up, knowing in advance that asking someone else will also provide me with an extra leavening of the other person’s opinion, which is not the point of finding something out for yourself in the first place.

While writing this, I realize that this is exactly why I don’t add to my e-mail database of contacts very often. For every three people I seem to add, one is an auto-forwarder.

Additionally, I have yet to find a nice way to say, “With every idiotic e-mail promising great riches that you send me, my estimation of your intellectual adequacy decreases. May want to watch that.”

I just got a forward today from someone I usually describe as “painfully earnest”, emphasis on “painfully”. She said it had been on Good Morning America. Without even scrolling down to the text, I knew A: it was a hoax and therefore B: she had heard it on GMA and not bothered to listen to the reason it was on GMA, e.g. it was a hoax. Do I have increased respect for her sagacity today? Why, no. Funny, that.

Finally, and most importantly, these are not just e-mails that make it easy to tell which of your friends are dupes. They open your computer to worms, bots, trojan horses and other ickies that like to linger in your system and cause you trouble later. It is in your best interest to ask people to kindly stop cluttering your inbox with objects they can’t guarantee the provenance of, and can ruin your system with.

If your friend walked up to you at the airport door and handed you a suitcase and said “Just take it through Security for me” you wouldn’t do it. By accepting fwds, you’re allowing that suitcase to be opened in your hard drive.

This means, of course, that you should be very careful about whom you forward e-mails to. Rest assured, the joke lists and cartoons can be found nearly anywhere. No one is going to wither away and die because the latest “Hang in There” kitty pic won’t be gracing their inbox this week. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

No forwards; make it your mantra, too.

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1:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of bots.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Dominique said...

Never underestimate the dumbing down of America. I STILL get the forward about Bill Gates paying for everyone who forwards the spam chain email. My Goddess, that one came to us in 1995 and still is going round and round.

Great article.

10:05 PM  

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