Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Urge to Glurge and Other Online Misdeamenours

Received a story from a friend in my e-mail. It's called The Birdies. Go take a peep.

The passed-on-passed-on e-mail ended with the words:
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 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.

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."
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?

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:
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.


Anonymous said...

I hate these stories too (Yeah, I too got the one about Bill Gates and passed it on to the microsoft people) and they come with alarming regularity into my mailbox. you are right - it's emotional manipulation of the worst sort and yes, it's always friends who send them to you. The worst part of these stories is the tag at the bottom which says forward this to 5 people and you will see a change in your life. Forward it to 10, 15, 20 etc and the promise gets more and more alluring. I really, really hate these stuff. But the urban legends are the pits - because they seek to create fear.
I wonder who thinks up these stories? What kind of people are they?

Kak Teh said...

Didnt we do this when we were in Primay Six - all those chain letters that we religiously copied - handwritten , of course, in the absence of copy and paste? or forwards? Yes, they clogged my email box too.

Anonymous said...

i am guilty of forwarding tibetan chain emails. i am guilty of forwarding promising love will come chain emails and jokes and powerpoint presentations. i am an insipid, silly, forwarder of such mails.

i need to develop a hobby.

Chet said...

The thing is, a lot of people who forward such chain mails believe they are doing their friends a favour.

If it's about a dying girl, etc., I google for more info, and usually find it's a fake. I then send the link to the person who sent me the chain mail and tell them to be more careful in future.

If it's other type of chain mail asking me to forward to 5 people within a time limit in order to be blessed, etc., I reply to the person who sent it to me, telling them I love them but I will not do what the chain mail asks me to do.

Anonymous said...

I'm like dz.

A possible rationale?
Perhaphs something along the lines of thought, word and deed - for example:
The thought is "I want somone to love me."
Here come all these emails with words that say, "If you send this along to five people, you'll get love."
So, one does the deed, hoping for love.

Sadly, am still single!

Yes, should get a proper hobby!

bibliobibuli said...

Jordan - I never heard about the giant snake in Muar ... wow!

Saras - the website makes fascinating reading because you can trace where the stories originate ... in many there's a grain of truth. But it's the passing-on phonomena that is really fascinating ... why do we fall for them ... do these stories tap into our deepest fears?

Kak Tah - I remember when we used to get chain lettes through the post and they were quite scarey becasue they said that you'd get bad luck if you didn't pass them on ...

dz, asha - now we know! Must confess I pass on funnies and there have been some brilliant power points and film clips doing the doing the rounds ... Did you see the one with the tow truck falling into the river. Hilarious! But these are not really the same thing as Urban Legends ...

Chet - you are very pragmatic ... and calm about it ... I am afraid I just growl at the sender ...

priya said...

The worst ones are those lists of 'petitions' for world poverty/ pollution/ insert-currently-fashionable-cause, and when the 347th person is supposed to send the list to the address stated, no such account exists.

Worse are the ones with pictures of happy kids, who apparently are cancer patients, who will receive a dollar from every e-mail fowarded. Does anyone actually stop to think about how such a donation would be possible?!

Everyone should just stick to the official Amnesty website