I got a really funny e-mail the other day. It was just a bunch of candid shots of little kids making messes. It was cute. So I scroll through the shots of a kid dropping a bag of potting soil into a pool and one of a toddler tinkling in his breakfast cereal and when I get to the bottom, I notice something. There is a little poem about how precious children are and then an instruction: Forward this to 10 moms you love in the next 10 minutes and an unexpected stream of good luck will flow your way.

Now, I need good luck as much as the next guy, I’m watching the stock market, but what’s with the strong-arming? If the content of your e-mail is not funny/cute/weird enough to merit forwarding on its own, then don’t try to bully me into forwarding it! It’s like they’re dangling the ‘carrot’ of a good luck streak so I can get yelled at by 10 friends for forcing them to forward a mediocre e-mail of kids with mullets wreaking havoc on the general population.

And why? Who cares if the e-mail gets forwarded? I mean, if it were really that interesting/clever/thought-provoking, it would get forwarded regardless. Some of these chain e-mails don’t even have content. They simply instruct you to forward them: This email has been around the world 17 times. Forward it to 10 people in the next 15 minutes, or suffer the consequences. John B. deleted the e-mail, and the next day he was hit by lightening. Joseph L. deleted it and was immediately pulled into an unmarked van by a relentless gang of thugs, beaten and thrown into a ditch.

Let’s talk for a minute about an e-mail that’s been around the world 17 times. An e-mail can go around the world in about two minutes. Seriously, I e-mail my best friend from law school in Osaka. He sends it to his Williams buddy in Perth, then to his sister in L.A. Bam! Around the world. Second, what did I ever do to you? Seriously, I think I would only forward an e-mail like that to someone for whom I harbored some serious hostility…or my sister-in-law in Michigan. But only because she sends them to me…hmmm.

So, I guess the lesson to be learned here is that any e-mail that has a subject like, ‘a friend has sent you good luck’ or ‘thought you’d like this’ or ‘a message of friendship’ should be immediately deleted before the forward-or-suffer-serious-bodily-harm threat can be revealed. I may end up throwing out the baby with the bath water, but I’m not going to risk getting struck by lightening.

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