Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gullibility Forwarded

Ever wondered (or found the answer to) what the average life of a forwarded mail is?

I used to get forwards when I created my first email account in hotmail in '98 - one was about a nice Software Engineer's husband suffering from the rarest of the rare kind of cancer and how forwarding that mail to twenty-five people in my Contact list can save his life. Unfortunately I did not have twenty-five people in my Contact list. The mail kept coming back with a vengeance till I forwarded it to a few other unsuspecting victims. Another very popular forward claimed that Microsoft and some other company were handing out laptops or handsets or something very desirable, to people who forwarded the mail to another twenty of their contacts ("remember to put the Microsoft guy in CC so that you get your gift within ten days").

I was told later by a friend that the Software Engineer in question went totally nuts with the email chain for it was a mischief set up by one of her colleagues, and she was tired of reassuring people around the world that her husband was hale and hearty, touch wood. I can't imagine how much hair the Microsoft guy must have pulled out of his head every time he got the mails from hopeful gift-seekers.

As more and more gullible users create email accounts, the jokes (or the jokers) evolve and adapt themselves to the requirements of the existing world.

Recently I got an email that looked suspiciously like the old Microsoft one, except that the names were changed and the reward for forwarding to contacts was no longer a laptop, it was an iPhone. I was very surprised to note that the sender was no novice to the world of email. What, then, is their excuse?


  1. I wish I could explain this behavior. My in-laws, despite my repeated explanations to them about this sort of thing, persist in forwarding every stupid chain e-mail message in existence. Because from one day to the next, they seem incapable of learning. Boo.

  2. The other day I saw one I hadn't seen in years -- a school project to see how many places email could reach. Perhaps it's been so long since anyone had to be told not to do this that schools have stopped warning teachers against purposely asking to have the school's servers overloaded with relentless junk.

    Most really foolish people, however, seem to have signed on to Facebook, where they can torment their friends and offer up their data for harvesting by playing games, "liking" jokes and, yes, believing that someone will give him a free laptop, iPhone or other earthly reward.