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Forwarded Emails are Worse Than Spam

by George on June 10, 2010

Email comes in many flavors, but the forwarded email – the one with a joke, political slant, religious or superstitious tone – is probably worse than actual spam. Actual spam is easily identified and is typically filtered out of our inbox. This other electronic effluent is being flushed in your direction by people purporting to be your friend – and it’s always disappointing to realize that your social circle is populated by people so wildly self-involved or deluded they can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to be a link in a pseudo-psychic gesture whose benefaction is predicated on you forwarding the same electronic turd they just sent you.

In fact, a few people I know have been offended when I suggested that I’m not at all interested in any of this forwarded crap. Since it isn’t always understood why forwarded emails shouldn’t be gang-mailed to friends, I thought I would spell it out to clear up any confusion.

First, the forwarded email is really presumptive. The person forwarding this electronic effluent assumes you have time to read, view, or listen to it. That’s a bit obnoxious; it’s probably worse than the “drop-in” visit. The drop-in visit might have been ok back when crops were growing out back and you had to observe the Sabbath or risk immolation in the town center, but things are different now. Life is busy.

The second prevalent assumption is that the content is valid. However hard it is to hear this, I can assure you that 99.9% of the things you read in a forwarded email are absolute crap. It is completely contrived drivel from someone with either an axe to grind, a point of view to sell, or some other apocryphal nonsense designed to prey on the stupid.

My personal favorite is the one I alluded to earlier: the message that offers some sappy religious allegory or sentient aphorism that concludes with a dire mortal threat intended to coerce my cooperation in giving this thing a suitable afterlife by inflicting it on five or more of my friends. Really, something horrendous is going to happen to me if I don’t forward your email? Sure glad you thought to include me in this perfidious gesture and its diabolical consequences. Idiot.

But this isn’t necessarily a screed against the folks in my address book. I’m here to help. If you really have a need to forward an email to me – and it is remotely similar to anything I’ve mentioned here – do both of us a favor: do some research. Not to worry, it isn’t hard. Just look up the topic on If the topic is there and it’s been marked as “False” you shouldn’t forward it to anyone. If the topic is there and it’s been marked “True” you shouldn’t forward it to me. I will assume all risks and liabilities associated with this small consideration.

If this is any way problem for you, please let me know … so I can remove you from my address book.

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