Am I too cynical? Or does this make you just as mad?

I received an email today. It was a story called 'Angels' which tells the tale of a regular kid who helps a socially inept boy in school, consequently averting his planned suicide. Written with misty-eyed reminiscence, it comes off like a syrupy Reader's Digest snippet.

The email came with the usual exhortation to:

'SEND IT TO AT LEAST 10 PEOPLE, INCLUDING THE PERSON WHO SENT IT TO YOU' [sic. capitalisation]

because apparently,

'If it comes back to you, then you'll know you have a circle of friends'

the letter also reminds us that:

'It's National Friendship Week. Show your friends how much you care.'

Needless to say, there is no National Friendship Week (neither here nor in the U.S.A.). Also, I don't believe a chain letter email spamming campaign is a good way to make/keep friends.

The email itself awkwardly lifts a few trite phrases from the famous Eleanor Roosevelt letter, but that isn't its primary source of cheese.

As usual, Snopes puts the story to bed. The letter is a rip-off of a (probably made-up) parable in a flash-in-the-pan self-help book called Chicken Soup for the Soul, which led to Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul; then Teenage —; Pre-teen —; Sister's –; Grieving —; Christian –; Jewish –, Latter Day Saint's –; Gardener's –; Breast Cancer Survivor's –; and inevitably the Dog [and then Horse] Lover's Soul. It's kind of like a Soul for Dummies series–they're up to 105 titles now.

'But, Darwin', you cry, 'it's the sentiment that counts. How can you be so cold?'

Personally, it's not the rip-off that bothers me, nor the Frankenstein ending with bits cobbled on here and there, nor even the irritating chain letter instructions, viz.,

You now have two choices, you can:

1) Pass this on to your friends or

2) Delete it and act like it didn't touch your heart. [I did, and it didn't]

No, what really galled me was the use of the CC: field for email addresses. That, coupled with the lazy-assed indented forwarding (nested eight layers deep!) which naturally included everyone else's idiotic CC: fields, meant that the email included no less than 199 addresses of 'friends' (I counted them with the Notepad++ Find-Count feature; nice editor).

This, folks, is quite simply the reason why my email inbox (and probably yours) is roughly 98% spam. Once again and without my consent, someone has innocently (I'd say negligently in a court of law) distributed my private email address to hundreds of anonymous persons.

Of course, this is 'no big deal' to people who just log on to Hotmail every few weeks to see if anyone's sent them a funny video clip–'I just forward them on.' People who think email might sound handy but 'no-one I know really uses it.'

I think there should be a rule on the 'Compose' page of Outlook Express, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, etc (all the usual suspects, not Thunderbird of course) which blocks the sending of an email containing more than ten '@' symbols.

Or I just should be more careful regarding to whom I divulge my email address in the first place? Perhaps a written test? Well, that's for another post.

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