Although I have a website (of sorts), a Yahoo! Club and
all sorts of Worldwide Web-related paraphernalia, I'm really not a 'Net
sort of person. Like most sensible people, to begin with I was instantly
enchanted by the concept of the Internet and spent many hours 'surfing the
Web', as we newbies called it then. However, for reasons which I have
discussed many a time, I rapidly grew disillusioned with the Internet and
everything connected with it. My weekly website updates became
fortnightly, monthly, and eventually completely discarded any semblance of
regularity. My Yahoo! Club would be ignored by me for days, sometimes
weeks on end. And, finally, inevitably, I became either too busy or too
lazy to reply to e-mails with any sort of punctuality. The upshot of this
was, of course, that people tended not to e-mail me very often, knowing
that my replies could not be counted upon to arrive anytime soon. This
disheartened me a little, as I quite liked receiving e-mails from people
but, as the only way to encourage people to e-mail would be to actually
REPLY to their e-mails, I deemed the trade-off a necessary one. And so, in
return for a relatively quiet life I accepted the prospect of having an
Inbox filled only with billing notices from the mercenary bastards at
British Telecom and the occasional invitation to participate in a
once-in-a-lifetime shares offer. But, mixed in amongst all the turgid
nonsense I was daily sent, every now and then I'd discern a recognizable
name. "Oooh! An e-mail from someone I KNOW!" I'd say with something
approaching vague enthusiasm, "I wonder what it can be?". And then I'd
open it. And be confronted with "101 Reasons Why It's Better To Be A Guy
Than A Girl". And I'd SCREAM forever.
You see, I just cannot STAND forwards and chain e-mails, and I can't for
the LIFE of me understand why people send them on. I mean, have you ever
laughed at an e-mail titled "FW: Fw: Fw: Fw: Re: This is fun!!!"? Or been
inspired by a chain e-mail containing a poem about drunk-driving, or a
story about some Mexican guy buying a carton of milk for his neighbor's
wife or some other such equally ludicrously improbable tale? I haven't.
This leads me onto one of the main problems with chain e-mails.
1) They are written by the sort of people who write chain e-mails.
See, if William Shakespeare had written a chain e-mail it'd probably have
been quite good. He'd have sent it to you, you'd have read it, said "Cor!
That was a BIT good!" and sent it onto your friends, knowing that they'd
like it too. And so Will's important message would touch the hearts of
thousands and change the lives of millions, and the world would be a much
better place for it.
Unfortunately, William Shakespeare wasn't the sort of person who wrote
chain e-mails. That is, he wasn't a spotty American teenager with no
friends and nothing to do but sit at a computer all day. He was out there
in the real world, mixing it around a bit, writing his plays and sonnets
without even the THOUGHT of inflicting them on the world if it chose to
ignore them. And if he'd written a REALLY good sonnet about the importance
of friendship, and somehow managed to make a wee picture of a teddy-bear
out of backslashes, brackets and hyphens to add to the bottom of it, would
HE have started sending it out to everyone in the world with the line "ITS
NATIONAL FRIENDSHIP WEEK!!! SEND THIS TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND TO THE
PERSON WHO SENT IT TO YOU!" gratuitously tacked on to the bottom? No, no
he wouldn't. He'd just have quietly copied it into his manuscript, went
about his business in a respectable fashion, and lived and died in shadowy
obscurity. So, why, oh WHY do people whose literary talent rarely even
approximates to a correct usage of punctuation and grammar feel the need
to foist upon us poem after joke after inspirational story? And, more to
the point, why do people read these things and actually SEND THEM ON????
Which brings me neatly to my next point.
2) People who send on e-mails are like the people who write them. But with
Here's a scenario for you to mull over. Imagine that you're incredibly
bored and, as a last resort, decide to go on the Internet and have a look
around for some interesting sites. "There are literally MILLIONS of
websites out there," you think to yourself, "Each a suppository for
varying amounts of information on extremely diverse subjects. Almost every
interest I have, no matter how obscure or perverted, shall be catered for
on some website or other, and although variations in quality are immense,
there is SO much out there that it cannot FAIL to entertain me for the
awkward half-hour between "Friends" and "Frasier"! Why, the very beauty of
the 'Net is its INCREDIBLE eclecticism! And whilst I am on, I shall check
my e-mail. Ooh, one new message downloading! I wonder what it could
Why, it's a forward with a big, FUCK-OFF attachment! Which will take
forever to download, and shall doubtless turn out to be a collection of
pictures of men on bicycles taken at HILARIOUSLY unconventional angles!
Ker-CHING! Well, I know what I'LL be doing for the next half-hour! Ah,
forwards...... Eases the pain......"
DOES THAT SOUND FUCKING LIKELY TO YOU? Because it certainly DOESN'T to me.
Just who ARE these people, that take it upon themselves to inflict their
own particular brand of 'entertainment' on the rest of us? They're like
the really bad karaoke singers who start belting out "I Will Survive" when
you're right in the middle of a pleasant conversation. Only, instead of
actually singing THEMSELVES, they play a tape-recording of someone else
singing, someone who you've never seen, never heard of, and pray to GOD
you'll never meet. Because, if you DID happen to bump into them on your
way home one lonely winter night with no witnesses around, and they
started telling you a story called "The Boy Who Never Gave Up" or "The Bus
That Couldn't Slow Down", your next prayer to God would be a rather
lengthy one, involving a fair old bit of explaining on your part. But,
most of all, ABOVE ALL about these people, ONE thing gets to me. It's the
knowledge that they haven't sent it to me for ANY real reason, other than
my presence in their address book. Now, I wouldn't mind half as much if
someone read a forward, thought "Ooh! This is the sort of thing Thomas
would find funny!" and then sent it on to me, with the best of intentions.
But I DO mind when someone says "Ooh! A forward! Another chance to
INDISCRIMINATELY inflict upon EVERYONE with whom I have had ANY sort of
correspondence in the last 5 years a completely inane and utterly
pointless exercise in showing-off!!". Because I'm fairly convinced this is
the main reason they do it, you know.
1) To show that they receive forwards, and thus to prove that they have
2) To let everyone on their mailing-list see how big their mailing-list
is, and further propagate the myth that they have lots of friends.
And so it is that the rage induced by my finding a forward in my mail is
directly proportional to the number of unfortunates who have also had
their Inboxes violated in a similar fashion. The message is: there is
enough SHIT on the Internet as it is, without the relative sanctity of my
mail server becoming a suppository for further crap. Forward-senders,
no-one is impressed by your slip-shod attempts to affirm your social
circles. For, when all's said and done, anyone who thinks that repeating
and rehashing something that wasn't even worth saying in the first place
is an adequate substitute for proper human contact needs their head
examined. With a baseball bat.