The passed-on-passed-on e-mail ended with the words:
THIS IS A SPECIAL GUARDIAN ANGEL... PASS THIS ON TO AT LEAST 5 PEOPLE WHOSE RELATIONSHIP YOU VALUE. PASS THIS ON, JUST TO REMIND OURSELVES AS WELL AS OTHERS THAT YOU ARE BEING WATCHED OVER FOREVER...... Now don't delete this message.Now I don't know about you, but these sentimental e-mails, rather than filling me with love, and peace and benovolence to my fellow man ... just make me see red! Most of the time they aren't true and I hate to be lied to. And it's emotional manipulation of the cheapest sort. The "pass-it-on-to-at-least" instruction is the final straw. I feel like rounding on the person who sent it and shouting "You gullible idiot! What do you take me for!"
The folks at snopes.com came up with a great word for these stories. Glurge.
What is glurge? Think of it as chicken soup with several cups of sugar mixed in: It's supposed to be a method of delivering a remedy for what ails you by adding sweetening to make the cure more appealing, but the result is more often a sickly-sweet concoction that induces hyperglycemic fits.Does it matter if these stories are not true? Some friends are taken by surprise by my reaction and say; "It's a nice story anyway." Yeah, stick-your-fingers-down-your- throat-and-hack-up-a-hairball sort of nice. (And doesn't the word "glurge" sound so pleasantly like vomiting?) Am I alone in feeling like this?
In ordinary language, glurge is the sending of inspirational (often supposedly "true") tales that conceal much darker meanings than the uplifting moral lessons they purport to offer, and that undermine their messages by fabricating and distorting historical fact in the guise of offering a "true story."
Urban legends are much worse though and I've had plenty of those sliming their way into my inbox.
There was one about Bill Gates sharing his fortune. The subject line screamed:
PLEEEEEEEEEASE READ IT WAS ON THE NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!"And it went on:
For a two weeks time period. For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00 For every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, You will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks,Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a check.Gates himself stepped forward to squash the rumour and lambast the senders-on-senders-on for wasting everyone's valuable time.
We've also had out localised variations of urban legends which have done their rounds in America and other parts of the world before reaching these shores. (We always seem to be that bit behind!)
Remember the story about snakes in the kiddies ball pit in IKEA or man in Midvalley Megamall's carpark who pretended that he wanted to borrow a carjack but was really out to kidnap a poor defenceless woman at knifepoint?
Surely, there are enough things to be afraid of this world without someone adding to them?
And the irony is that all these stories seem to be passed on to me by friends in academia! The very same people who come down like a ton of bricks on their students if they haven't taken the trouble to check their sources.