Are you lemmings? Break the chain
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 8:45PM
John Strain

OK kiddies, gather around. Your Uncle John wants to tell you a story:

A long long time ago, before the Internet was invented by Al Gore, people used to communicate by writing things on paper, putting that paper in an envelope, giving it to a letter carrier, who would deliver the paper to the intended recipient. We called them letters. It usually took the mail man anywhere from 2 to 3,746 days to deliver the letter, but we were used to slow in those days.

There were all kinds of letters. For instance, love letters which carried the sentiments of the heart from one person to another. Love letters were a necessity in "long distance" relationships. Soldiers at the front wrote to their sweethearts back home. Whatever the reason for the separation, love letters filled the bill. I wrote a few of them myself. Why, in my day, my love missives were quite the thing. I even sent some of them, ha. Letters were sent to congratulate people about the new job, the birth of a baby, and anything else deserving of a kuddo. Families kept in touch through the mail. A long distance telephone call was too expensive. That was only used to tell someone about a death or some other equally earth shattering news that could not wait for the US Mail.

The letter I want to talk about though is one that still exists in various forms. I am talking about the chain letter. A chain letter usually came from a stranger. This was always intriguing. In those days, junk mail had not been perfected so any piece of mail received was scrutinized. The chain letter promised remarkable things, good health, money, or just good luck. Examples were given:

Wilbur Fritz did not break the chain and he received a check in the mail 4 days later in the amount of $142.87.

To ensure the fates turn your way and smile, though, you have to send money to a list of people. If you break the chain, however, you might experience bad luck. An example of bad luck was also given.

Delbert Dicks broke the chain and a freight train derailed a week later and killed three of his milk cows.

Many people decided to keep the chain going. Why thumb your nose at fate, they would reason.

Well, I thought it was a load of crap. It is just a big pyramid scheme and you start at the bottom. No letter is going to bring about fortune or good luck and it sure as heck won't bring about misfortune or bad luck.

Now a days, I am on Facebook and I do not write that many letters. If I wrote my wife a love letter, she would take me to a psychiatrist to see if he could shrink my mind back into my bald head. I do not receive that many letters either, but interestingly enough, chain letters still exist.

These days, I get emails instead of letters. Sometimes I get an email telling me that Microsoft or some company is tracking this email and if I forward it to so many people, I will get a lot of money. BS. Other chain letters are wrapped in religious clothing. If you don't forward this email to 7 of your friends - I guess 7 is significant, being religious and all - then you will go to hell. If you do not forward it, you are ashamed of God. Other forms are aimed at patriotism. The letter tells a story about a soldier or displays photos of our military. The instructions are to forward the email or you are a comunist, or you do not love the troops, or you are an ingreat. Starving children, homeless kittens, and you name it seem to have chain letters zipping around Al Gore's Internet on their behalf.

I say break the chain. Facebook is full of signs and photos with the admonition - Like to prove you do not hate gays. Like to prove you care about animals. Like to prove your allegience for political party X. Phooey.

I can like what I want and I do not have to click S$%T to prove it. All of this stuff is someone's attempt to get likes and somehow become viral instead of just vile. If you are a contributor to Facebook or have a blog, like your Uncle John, do not shameless try to manipulate people to click like out of guilt. Just throw it out there. If it is any good, they will like it and share it. Otherwise, it will sit there like the other 99% of cyberspace.

So that's my rant. I hope you agree. 

I better get some likes and shares out of this or I will lapse into a deep depression. Don't worry about me though, just ckick like or share if you really want to, not because you don't want to hurt my feelings - as it surely will, but that's ok, do what you want.

Until the next time if there is a next time

John Strain

Article originally appeared on John's Online Journal (http://www.johnstrain.net/).
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