Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Internet nonsense

I got to get off politics for a while.
So I'll get on to something else that annoys me. And it's the forwarded emails I get all too often.

Before I start, I want to acknowledge that not all forwarded emails are garbage. You may have friends, as I do, who know what you're interested in or what will amuse you, and will not send you junk.

Then there is the other stuff.

I have a relative who likes to provoke me by sending me things she knows will annoy me. I'll deal with her later. But I want to talk about the things she forwards, and the other emails I get from people who send them in all seriousness, and what we can know about them.
And how you can save yourself aggravation and the effort of reading them.
Get used to the idea that there is nothing you can do about them. Except not forward them to some other hapless soul.

This particular item started off with something like "If you cross the border illegally into North Korea you get 12 years at hard labor."
In all caps.

Of course it was easy to see right away where this was going, so I just scrolled immediately down to the bottom and I was right. After listing what the writer thought would happen by crossing several country's borders ("if you cross the Afghan border you will be shot." Oh really? Tell it to the smugglers and Taliban who practically have highways leading in and out of the country), he/she/it finished off by listing all the supposed benefits of crossing into ours, like health care, driver's licenses etc.
The whole thing was full of partial truths (especially about the benefits of coming to the US) and outright fabrications or guesses, based, if based on any fact at all, on single recent news items.

But I'm not going to talk about that. This is about form, not substance. Actually, there is no real substance to this kind of form.

Savvy internet cruisers already know that ALL CAPS means bullpucky is in the message. All cap emails come from folks who are angry and fearful and otherwise helpless (or just plain evil or in need of attention) and think that shouting is the way to make other people listen to and believe them. Trust me, these folks are not trying to engage in a conversation. As witnessed by the lack of signature, return address and back-up documentation for the statements contained in the email. And the all caps.

I wonder if these people know what it means to engage in a conversation.

And these always start of with FW: or Fwd: FW:—meaning your friend or acquaintance forwarded an email that was forwarded to her/him and (s)he is passing it on. Forwarded emails have a long life, it seems. And are almost always useless.

There are some FWs that are collections of jokes, and I even got one that was amusing, once. But mostly they have some usually extremely far-right asshat political point to make, as above, or they are building on some fear or trying to create some fear in the recipients. These latter usually start off with the notorious, nameless "I."

"I want to warn you about a new danger from over-the-counter fiber supplements. My neighbor's daughter was taking XYZ fiber supplement when she was suddenly stricken with an attack of zombie syndrome and rushed to the hospital. We'd never heard of this before, and our doctor, Doctor Ima Doofus, told us it was something the medical profession was trying to hide to avoid panic…blah blah."

"I want to alert you to a new study which shows that watching cooking programs on TV will cause terrible gastrointestinal problems and make you fart like a pirate."

There will be no names, no documentation. I did get one that was purportedly from a doctor with a name but it still checked out as fake according to, even tho it appeared the doctor was real. Just terribly misquoted and statements distorted.

Snopes is a good resource for checking out these things.

I said these often have right-wing political lies and distortions. I want to know, what is wrong with all those Obama-loving socialists who are supposedly threatening the country? How do they expect to take over without sending their own forwarded ALL CAPS emails to counter the right wing? C'mon guys, you're falling down on the job.

I digress.

To review:
1. If your email is forwarded, be suspicious, especially if it's from someone you know is likely to fall for internet bullpucky. You'll have to look at it of course—for the same reason we have to look at automobile accidents we happen to pass by.

2. If you open it and it is in all caps, be aware you will be wasting your time reading it. Really, you'll hate yourself in the morning.

3. If it is written by the nameless "I" you will know that it has been written to create FUD—Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Or delusion. Move along, there is nothing to see there.

4. If it's trying to scare you in some way, assuming you've gone so far as to try to read it, it's 99% certain to be junk.

5. If you've read it and are starting to be unsure about its validity, in spite of what I have told you (you aren't listening, are you?), check it out with or some other reliable source. One with references you can check to determine the truth or lack of truth in the message.

And whatever you do, DON'T FORWARD IT TO ME!!!!

That goes for both of you reading this.

That's all for now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin looks really good. Obama smokes crack.