|One on my pet peeves, as a computer professional, is the chain letter.
You know, it starts off with Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Re: Fwd: followed by an avalanche of "greater than" signs (one for each person who forwarded this email!) and some remark about how true what you are about to read generally is:
Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Re: Fwd:
>>>>>>>>>This is a true story!!!
Now, most of us who have spent anytime in the industry have come to despise such letters, and I am no exception. Always and ever the purpose of the letter is to propagate itself by having you (the reader) send it out to everyone you know. The vehicle by which the letter is propagated can change - but the motive is always to see how far the letter can go - the content of the letter is secondary.
The forbearer of this sort of email was the actual chain letter - a superstitious "Prayer of Jude" style letter that promises all sorts of wonderful goodies if you propagate it, and all manner of villainy if you don't. Usually, examples of people who did break the chain were given: "George McPhain, a lens grinder who made giant lenses for telescopes, broke this chain in Dorchester, in 1987 and the very next day fell into the lens grinder - making a spectacle of himself" etc.
I don't know if there was any sort of precursor to the chain letter proper - maybe there was a fletching forbearer, where you received a chicken, and had to make a bunch of arrows out of it's feathers, then send the chicken on to the next guy - I just don't know.
Today however, as email is maturing from a technological option to a mainstream medium, more and more people are using it and consequently, the chain letter has "evolved" into the chain email.
The medium itself allows for several new genres of chain email to be sent:
- The "amber alert" genre - This style of email is the one where some child (complete with a picture) is missing and you must forward this email to everyone as fast as you can.
- The "doctored photo" genre - the kind where there is a photo that has been doctored in photoshop, but an interesting spin is put on it and the picture becomes the vehicle by which the email is propagated.
- The "scare ya" genre - this is the "there are bad people out there doing bad things - don't let this happen to you, so here is a heads up" sort of email. It is propagated (no doubt) by well meaning people who don't want their friends and family to fall victim to whatever is being set forth as truth.
The most annoying of all - BAR NONE - are the ones with spiritual undertones. You know, the ones that tell some sad story - with a Christian bent - then at the end they challenge you to mail it to all your friends - if you really love Jesus.
Now, as a believer, I love receiving inspirational email, and many times I have been edified by something that has been passed on to me by others. Who would grouse over such a thing? No sober or right thinking person, which is why I would never talking about email that edifies without a caveat.
What I -am- talking about is the sort of chain letter that imposes upon my "Christian sympathies" by implicitly suggesting that failure to propagate this email is tantamount to denying Christ before men - or as the title to this post implies - that failure to propogate the email demonstrates that you are ashamed of Jesus Christ. To this I say, "Shame, shame" and again, "-- shame!"
It is because I am not ashamed of Christ that I would hold myself from sending out such a letter. Christ isn't some theological idea in my head to be treated as an argument - Christ is a person, and unless Christ alone is going to be glorified by sending out that email - I am under no obligation to send it. There isn't even a hint of lingering guilt either. The world isn't going to be won by cutesy emails - or even by emotionally moving stories - especially when they are forwarded en masse to the internet community with that personalized Fwd: Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd:Fwd: header...
My advice as a computer professional and a Christian? Don't ever forward an email to anyone - ever. If you must forward an email - don't forward it to everyone on your email list. And when you do forward an email to anyone - if it talks about something that sounds like it might be a hoax or simply made up - check it out first.
The internet has many sites available that identify the current hoaxes, email stunts, and miscellaneous garbage that is currently in circulation on the net.
And lastly - don't ever, ever, ...ever send out anything that has a clause at the bottom that suggests that one's spiritual fortitude rests entirely on their ability to propogate this email.