FreeThought Fort Wayne

        Be Reasonable

FW:

Posted by dystressed on September 29, 2008

The most dreaded two letters for my e-mail inbox are FW. The dreaded letters in the subject line indicate that what follows is most likely a totally lame joke, a prayer/luck chain e-mail, or a bad rumor about a public figure.

The last item in my list is what irritates me the most. I am a writer and news junkie. I enjoy reading blogs and almost all aspects of new media. The problem is that people are not thinking when they are reading e-mail. There is a certain implicit trust that someone you know or are related to believes this to be true. The text of these forwards sometimes creeps into blogs and gives legitimacy to things that wouldn’t ever make it onto the AP wire, let alone past any editor of a traditional newsroom.

I was happy to see that today the Journal Gazette posted a story about the good people over at Snopes.com. During this election cycle, they have been overrun with ridiculous memes about every single politician. One of the most interesting things I found out was that Snopes is a husband/wife duo that runs the entire site out of their living room.  Amazing.

If I have a point to this post, it’s that we all have to do our parts to be good citizens and reply to the friend or family FWs. Make sure that they know the facts, not some cockamamie version of the truth.

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7 Responses to “FW:”

  1. agnohumanist said

    A timely post! If I may brag a bit, I’ve been using snopes for a couple years now to help me try to undo the damage done by idiotic forwards. Where I work, many people assume you are a conventional believer and conservative politically (very bad assumption in my case!), so they feel safe in forwarding narrow-minded, right-wing, nationalistic crap (sometimes xenophobic and racist too). A couple years ago I had enough and started writing replies and hitting “reply all.” Remarkably, I got a few thank you’s and then, not surprisingly, a lot fewer forwards! Not long after that, my employer told people to knock off those kinds of mails. Mission accomplished! Still get them at home, though, and sometimes have to employ the same tactic there. Snopes sure helps cut down on research time!

  2. mightymjolnir said

    I agree, very timely post.

    Snopes is the best, for sure. Lately, I’ll also refer people to FactCheck.org as well. Most of these FWs are so tired that even a cursory glance at Wikipedia will dispel the vast majority.

    I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in that the most reality-challenged FWs I’ve received seem to come from my conservative friends and family. Actually, now that I think about it, I really don’t even get FWs from my progressive friends. Wonder why that is.

  3. dystressed said

    I had to admit I had no clue what to write about yesterday, but this article came along and I was like “Of Course.”

    The article was really funny because one of the people from Snopes said that they can’t believe some of the questions they get.

  4. awelfle said

    It’s amazing who will forward chain letters. Did you hear about the mayor of a small South Carolina town who passed along a chain letter about how Obama is muslim and is therefore the Antichrist? Check it out. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/104/story/220041.html

  5. Theo Doersing said

    Good article. I’ll forward it to everyone I know 😀

    If I forward it to 10 people in the next 5 minutes I’ll have good luck and nothing bad will happen to me for 7 years.

    My wife gets these crazy/stupid forwarded e-mails from her pushy uncle who seems oblivious to our sensibilities. I think he believes he’s doing us a favor. Oh well, it’s good for checking up on the latest dose of stupid.

    It’s old superstition and bigotry meets modern technology. It’s frightening how many people I know that treat this stuff seriously. I find myself using snopes as a quick and reliable debunking tool.

    The only thing worse than this junk is the republican propaganda mail I used to get addressed to my grandfather when I moved into his house after he died. Some of the things they did and said in those letters were truly offensive. I should have kept some of them for their shock value alone, but they deserved the landfill.

  6. @mighty

    Beat me to the punch on FactCheck.org it’s a great resource

    @theo

    Quit polluting our landfills

  7. Andy S. said

    I also have fallen victim to the mindless forwarding of emails (crap) disguised with titles such as: “URGENT”, “Interesting” or “MUST READ”. The majority of these emails come from an ultra-conservative, fear-mongering, pro-God, anti-liberal, Jesus loving, friend I have who also seems to be fascinated with informing and educating me with a bunch of really neat facts about the US military’s capability.

    All too often these emails end with the phrase “God Bless America” or “forward this email to seven friends, within seven minutes and you will have good luck for the next ten years”

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