Email forwards .. and Hoaxes ..

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 0:10

Forwarding emails is a part of our lives. If sending emails could generate money, the email forward business would be one of the biggest in the world. I know I am talking like Donald Trump, but cannot help, I am an ardent fan of the man!

Anyway, this post is not about Mr. Trump or any of his businesses. This is about the good, the poor, and the warning email forwards that we get everyday. While I adore the good forwards (of course the sender needs to be a sound judge of what a good forward means), I absolutely detest the bad ones and treat them with the same disdain with which I treat spam, and the senders as spammers. The idea of this post did not just appear from nowhere – this post is inspired by a forward from a good friend.

Filtering email forwards is an art. And it takes some time and experience to master this art. I believe I am sort of good at it, because I regularly get praises from my friends for the emails I forward. (Hence proving that I am qualified enough to write this post ;) ).

So what makes a good forward? Or what makes a bad forward? The simplest possible answer I can think of is that a forward is good if it is going to help even a single person involved in the whole activity. As I explain in the rest of the post, a bad forward is a liability to everyone involved, and is a sheer wastage of valuable resources (barring a few seconds of baseless satisfaction to the sender). Examples of good forwards include ones which share a good joke, or an information that is not available otherwise, or anything that can help anyone. The words “good”, “information” here tend to be more subjective than objective, and, as I mentioned earlier, the sender needs to have a sound judgement of these things.

The whole act of forwarding starts out as a fascination right from the time you create an email address of your own. Initially, it gives the sender immense satisfaction to send out a bunch of pictures of flowers, or a bunch of Santa Banta cliches to the entire list of contacts. These days, most of the the internet users are blunt enough to immediately warn the sender with a WTF message. On the other hand, if you are aware of the naivety of the sender and do not want to hurt him/her, you peacefully apply a corresponding filter and hope that the sender will realize his/her foolishness in due course of time.

I would like to spend some words discussing the types of forwards and their ramifications. The first kind is the one containing a lot of images of flowers, cars, balloons, .. and anything under the sun you could think of. The emails lack information, contain nothing new, and are perhaps the most annoying emails ever created. With a plethora image search tools available to the internet community, these kinds of emails are rejected by the sender immediately. And since the email contains a lot of images, it is far heavier than normal text emails. The end result – an utter waste of sender’s and receiver’s bandwidth, an utter misuse of world wide web network usage, and a sheer misuse of the email provider’s data servers. Moreover, it pisses the receiver like anything.

The second kind – contain PPT or PPS attachments preaching endless things about how life should be lived. These may be tolerable to some receivers, but excess of this will piss anyone off. Again, the size of attachment can be comparable to a set of images, leading to a lot of resource wastage in the end.

The third kind, and I love to write about this kind – are the unforgettable CHAIN mails. Thousands of internet users must have ranted about these mails. How on earth can an email decide the number of people it should be forwarded to, the amount of good luck that is going to come into my life, the number of days I am going to have that luck, and so on. Give me a break!

The fourth kind – are written to bring out the emotional front of you, by stating that someone is in dire need of something, and every email you send will fetch him/her some money. It has been more than a decade since I have been using email, and getting these kind of forwards, but not once have I seen any proof of anyone benefiting even a single penny out of them. As far as I know, it is illegal for mail providers to track emails sent/received by you. So how can anyone know how many people I sent it to, and how much money to credit to the innocent guy’s account? Crap !

The fifth (and the last one I have in mind at present) kind seem to be informative at the first look. They share information – information which puts you in a dillemma. You cannot trust the mail, and you cannot ignore the mail. Put very simply, the email will try to tell you some life-threatening (alleged) truths about some things. And since they are life threatening, you would want to believe them, but since they do not come from a reliable source, you would want to ignore them. Even though I am sure you got what I mean here, I will leave you with an example of such an email from a friend (which is the inspiration of this post as I mentioned earlier) and will let you decide for yourself what you want to do with such mails. I am also going to include the reply that I sent to his email.

The email:

Hi All,,

1) Don’t put your mobile closer to your ears until the recipient answers, Because directly after dialing, the mobile phone would use it’s maximum signaling power, which is: 2watts = 33dbi. Please Be Careful. Please use left ear while using cell (mobile), because if you use the right one it may affect brain directly. This is a true fact from Apollo medical team.

2) Do not drink APPY FIZZ . It contains cancer causing agent.

3) Don’t eat Mentos before or after drinking Coke or Pepsi coz the person will die immediately as the mixture becomes cyanide. Please fwd to whom u care

4) Don’t eat kurkure because it contains high amount of plastic if U don’t Believe burn kurkure n u can see plastic melting. Please forward to all!!!!!!!!!!! News report from Times of India

5) Avoid these tablets as they are very dangerous
* D cold
* Vicks action- 500
* Actified
* Coldarin
* Co some
* Nice
* Nimulid
* Cetrizet-D

They contain Phenyl- Propanol -Amide PPA.Which Causes strokes, and these tablets are banned in U.S.

6) Cotton Ear Buds… (Must read it) Please do not show sympathy to people selling buds on roadside or at Signals….. Just wanted to warn you people not to buy those packs of ear buds you get at the roadside. It’s made from cotton that has already been used in hospitals. They take all the dirty, blood and pus filled cotton, wash it, bleach it and use it to make ear buds. So, unless you want to become the first person in the world to get Herpes Zoster Oticus (a viral infection of the inner, middle, and external ear) of the ear and that too from a cotton bud, DON’T BUY THEM! Please forward to all this may be helpful for someone……….. Please forward to all your near and dear ones….!

My reply:

As is usual with such mails, some of the information in this mail is not true. You should verify and ask for sources whenever you come across such extremist information. We like to believe these, because the mail talks about life-threatening stuff and we want to live long. :) . But if these are false, we might be missing out on some of the best things in life, like Kurkure :)

1) The signalling power bit might be correct.  But no evidence or technical information is available to support it. Regarding left and right ears, I found this. Again, no evidence.

2) Appy Fizz : I like it and I consume it a lot. I am not sure about the cancer info, so I believe it for now, for obvious reasons. But I am constantly looking for evidence/proof of this.

3) Mentos and Coke : I have seen the videos showing the mind blowing effect of reaction of mentos with coke. But I am not sure what happens if they react inside the body or after digestion. But again, I would like to believe it, for now. You might want to read this.

4) Kurkure : Again, I love Kurkure. So I am certainly going to try this out! Interested in the fun experiment?

5) Out of these, I only use D-Cold. I know that Vicks Action 500 is not okay. I want to find the truth about D-Cold.

6) Thumb rule : Never ever buy anything from street vendors ! I trust Johnson & Johnson :) . You might want to read this.

Also see this.

What do you think? How was my reply?

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2 Responses to “Email forwards .. and Hoaxes ..”

  1. Ramanathan says:

    November 26th, 2008 at 11:53

    Good post. I would like to believe what you say till I find evidence to the contrary!

  2. Andrea says:

    December 9th, 2008 at 12:21

    A well-written post I must say.

    What you wrote in your post is actually true, when people receive mails they just forward them to their friends without even actually realizing whether what is written in the mail is true or no.

    Kurkure is even one of my favorite evening snack. The recent rumor about Kurkure containing plastic is all baseless. How can Kurkure contain plastic when it is made of edible ingredients including Corn meal, Gram Meal, Edible oil, Seasonings, Salt, Spices and Condiments and Flavors which we use in our daily household kitchen. Then how can Kurkure be harmful to health.


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