Monday

Don't break the chain


If you loved god harder, the
bear wouldn't be hurt.
You are a bad person.  

Twenty years ago I was in the 4th grade.

On arriving back at my much doodled on desk I found an envelope waiting for me, and I remember looking at it with some concern, was it a love letter? Or worse (maybe) was it a note requesting a parent teacher conference?

It was neither.


It was a chain letter.

Chain letters were the first attempts of social networking by my generation - although reading them came with no small amount of risk.

The information in them, if not reacted upon, might crush any hope of future happiness; a fear that seemed so all encompassing to a 9 year old  OR tell tales of how the last person to break the chain had all their hair fall out, or lost an arm in a freak yoghurt eating accident.

All this had the potential of actually happening, to ME, unless I mailed the message back to at least 15 people in the next 2 days.

A number of my classmates lost sleep trying to comply with these demands.

I sent it on, I had to.

Nothing happened though, other than a small amount of wrist-cramp involved in writing 15 letters and a certain amount of ire from one of the recipients who, even though the letter was supposed to be anonymous, I suspect knew that it had come from me.

In college, computers had finally become accessible, and I revelled it the new technology. Study was fun, messaging friends was easy, and the potential for this dawning age was huge.

But, just like some long forgotten and inexplicably tenacious skin fungus the bane of my grade school days was back.

Chain mails, in electronic form.

Who was this 
1337_60DD3SS@yahoo.com? How did she know where to find me? What did she MEAN when she demanded I send this email on to my contact list or my hair was going to fall out and my nose was going to turn into a foot?  Or at the extreme end of the scale, someone dear to me was going to get hurt?

For no rational reason it made feel, uncomfortable.

Now all these years later I thought I had left chain mails behind, and through a process of diligently reporting spam and removing other email crud, my inbox is pristine.

Everything is in order. No ridiculous advertisements for male enhancement or
Greek Island timeshare (are the 2 connected?)

Not so for facebook, everything is far from in order – but it’s sneaky.

Here’s an example:
A message gets shared on my wall. In it is a picture of an injured boy, clicking on the image brings up a heart wrenching story about the treatment of the child and his prolonged (and extensively described) suffering, and then his journey to enlightenment via some divine intervention.

Tears welled… my heart broke a little… I reached for the mouse and directed the cursor to the share button…

…and then stopped.

It was, for all intents and purposes, just another chain mail.

Who are my ‘friends’ that they think they should be able to mar an otherwise awesome day?
How on earth is the picture of a broken child supposed to achieve anything; was it supposed to scare me toward divine faith or simply apply a layer of guilt about non-belief?

Seriously.

Once the realisation hit all I felt was a lack of faith in those who would forward such ridiculous and offensive stuff for no other reason than to justify their OWN religious beliefs.

There’s more and more of these messages getting around, but if the messages or at least the intent of the messages are sincere, surely there has to be a better way of inspiring others.

Perhaps if I started made a post and sent it to 500 of my friends…

Kristine Gajitos is a self-styled slackermommy living in the Philippines. She lives with her awesome husband and their two brilliant, rowdy daughters. When she's not preoccupied with the kids, she plays her various MMOs and writes anything that comes into her head at www.slackermommy.com


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