Dedicated to culture and critical thought since 1998
11/8/1 Article: FWD: Delete!

by Lance Vargas

In the last ten years, electronic mail or e-mail has exploded from a business tool into a simple, cheap and easy way for the general public to communicate with friends and neighbors without the inconvieance of shelling out 33 cents for a stamp or licking the back of an envelope. 

With this wonderful form of mass communication came a certain degree of exploitation.  Junk e-mail or "spam" started turning up in people's electronic in-boxes.  Companies would buy lists of e-mail addresses and send out blind copies of what basically amounts to cyber junk mail.  But it is not this junk mail that upsets me so damn much.  I cannot rail against it because it is simply part of "the machine" on which I stopped wasting my energy years ago. 

What really upsets me is something known as forwarding or FWD.  A FWD is an e-mail message that has been viewed by one person then forwarded on to the next.  These forwards sometimes contain family events that need to be shared or general updates on what’s going on in someone’s life but more often than not, these e-mails contain some worthless little anecdote, an unfunny joke or a cartoon that takes a minute or so to download. 

I opened my e-mail program this morning to find fourteen messages waiting for me.  Each one had the prefix FWD.  Each one was deleted.  I have no time in my life to read jokes that wouldn't be funny even if they were told face to face and sure as hell aren’t funny when clogging my inbox.  With all the "XXX hot horny girls" e-mails and "earn money while online" e-mails I receive on a daily basis, I have enough deleting to do when I check my mail, without having to dispose of nonsense e-mails from people who should really know better. 

There is a certain group of people that usually bombard me with three to five FWDs a day.  I call these people, “The Usual Suspects.”  These folks are my friends and family and I love them.  However, they are responsible for the influx of FWDs I receive on a daily basis. I can put up with junk e-mail from companies out to make a buck.  We do after all live in a capitalist society.   But, I can't abide jokes, virus warnings, chain letters and cute lil anecdotes meant to brighten up my day, but actually just irritating me.
A telltale indication that a FWD is delete worthy is a title such as this: FWD: CUTE. This usually involves some joke that may or may not be dirty but is generally not worth the seconds wasted on it.  Unless someone else besides one of the usual suspects sent an e-mail with this title, it should be deleted without ever being opened. 

If a person who doesn’t frequently send you FWDs sends you one, it might be worth checking out due to the fact that this person has probably read the damn e-mail before sending it along its way down the information superhighway.  Other emails that should be deleted immediately are titled:  FWD: funny, FWD, this one’s cute, FWD: a funny, or FWD:  Joke.

Another absolutely horrendous FWD is titled FWD: Do This.  These usually involve a sort of mathematics trick, aptitude test, Cosmo quiz or some other such test that will occupy too much of my time or require a pen and paper to participate.  Want to know something that’s easier than taking the quiz?  Clicking delete.

Fwd: FWD: fwd: Fwd: This means that the message contained within was forwarded to someone else and that person in turn forwarded it and then it got forwarded again and again and again...  Sloppy seconds ain’t my style.  DELETE

FWD:  Virus warning This is one of my favorites.  These must always be read due to the fact that knowledge is power and one should really know the name of any potentially infected files floating around out there.  However, the sick-minded people who start these bogus virus warnings know that no one can resist opening a virus warning and thus send out hundreds of e-mails about phony viruses. 

A very good example of a phony virus warning and the trouble it can cause occurred this past Christmas when American cyber-jockeys became increasingly obsessed with a small and easily downloadable computer game called "Elf Bowling.” I downloaded Elf Bowling the first time someone sent it to me and enjoyed the hell out of it.  I constantly communicated with my friends via e-mail regarding who had the higher scores and who noticed something new about the game and so forth.  I must have received "Elf Bowling" five times from five different people.  It was one of the most forwarded e-mails in Internet history.  Then, a virus warning started making its way round the Internet that elf bowling was infested with a virus that would strike at 12:00 on Christmas Eve and render all our computers useless just in time for Christmas.  This freaked everyone out and Elf Bowling started getting deleted just as fast as it had been installed.  Our fun was over.  Everyone who FWD’d me the e-mail also forwarded me the virus warning e-mail, making it the second most forwarded e-mail in Internet history.   By the time everyone had deleted "Elf Bowling from their hard drives, a third e-mail made the rounds saying that the virus warning was a hoax and Elf Bowling was not infected with a Christmas Eve doomsday device.  The hoax e-mail then became the third most forwarded e-mail in Internet history.  By this time the whole elf-bowling situation was a bloody mess and no one could really enjoy the game for what it was.  This is a fine example of the nastiness of the virus warning e-mail and why it is one of  the worst offenders of Lance's’s list of FWD worthy e-mail.

Another FWD to look out for is titled, FWD-Belive it or not, this one comes from Bill Gates!!!"  This FWD is the one that really separates the mildly retarded from the absolute fucking morons.  This e-mail is one of the most blatant attempts at the "lets see what happens" psychology I have ever been made witness to.  It goes like this, The e-mail states that a person who opens it merely has to forward it to five people and he will automatically be sent a free copy of Windows 2000, courtesy of Bill Gates and Microsoft.  Another version of it states that by forwarding the e-mail to ten people a person will receive a free trip to Disney World.  Yet another says that there is a dying boy in Minnesota who as a last wish wanted his e-mail forwarded to thousands of people.  Do I really have to discuss the absurdity of this FWD?  I find it completely and utterly amazing that I will receive this e-mail and others like it from the same person over and over and over again.  I cannot possibly comprehend what is happening inside the synapses of person’s head that will send me this type of e-mail.  It is as blatant an attempt at a chain letter as I have ever seen.  I certainly hope that this person is not going to wait too long for their free copy of Windows 2000, free all expense paid trip to Disney World or  check for 100,000.

Still another version of a chain letter FWD has the receiver scroll down on the toolbar so that a staggered line of text rises and falls like a snowball over and over again until the end of the e-mail where it reads in large letters, “SPLAT”  you have been snowballed!  Snowball fight 99 is on!!!! Forward this to 10 more people!!!,” and people actually do it.  I can’t believe people actually do it. Lets move on.
  One of the most entertaining fwd I received in recent months was titled "KFC-yuck!" and it went like this…

To:  Elias Vict
Subject:  KFC-Yuck
Just some information for those who care.

KFC has been a part of our American traditions for many years. Many people, day in and day out, eat at KFC religiously. Do they really know what they are eating? During a recent study of KFC done at the University of New Hampshire, they found some very upsetting facts. First of all, has Anybody noticed that just recently, the company has changed their name? Kentucky Fried Chicken has become KFC. Does anybody know why? We thought The real reason was because of the "FRIED" food issue. It's not. The reason Why they call it KFC is because they can not use the word chicken anymore. Why? KFC does not use real chickens. They actually use genetically Manipulated organisms. These so-called "chickens" are kept alive by tubes inserted
Into their bodies to pump blood and nutrients throughout their structure. They have no beaks, no feathers, and no feet. Their bone structure is dramatically shrunk to get more meat out of them. This is great for KFC because they do not have to pay so much for their production costs. There Is no more plucking of the feathers or the removal of the beaks and feet. The government has told them to change all of their menus so they do not say chicken anywhere. If you look closely you will notice this. Listen to their commercials, I guarantee you will not see or hear the word chicken. I
find this matter to be very disturbing. I hope people will start to realize this and let other people know. Please forward this message to as many people as you can. Together we make KFC start using real chicken again.

I am going to try and remain calm as I write this.

Did this person actually think about the e-mail they sent before they sent it?  Did they even suspect that some of those who received it may think about the subject in a critical manner?  Do they ACTUALLY think that KFC would go through the trouble of hooking up fucking TUBES to a goddam chicken would ACTUALLY be cheaper than ripping out their feathers and chopping off their heads and feet?  What kind of Dr. Demento type technology do they think exists in this world!!!  They couldn’t possibly believe that applying tubes and carefully monitoring thousands of mutant chickens would actually be easier to maintain than millions of normal chickens that by nature do a fine job of taking care of themselves?  BTW, I went to KFC the other day and yes, they do still use the word CHICKEN!!!  It was fucking chicken this and fucking chicken that.  All over the place I saw and heard the word CHICKEN.

At first, these e-mail forwards were novel, now they are annoying.  I will be the first to admit I have gotten some good forwards in recent years.  Usually attached with MPG'S or JPG'S (that’s movies and pictures to you technotards out there)  I just have to ask people to please use a little discretion.  Forwarding doesn’t have to stop.  But the compulsivness of it needs to be weaned.   A final example: recently, I actually received a “hug certificate.”  What the fuck kind of Hallmark shit is that?  What is worse is that the friend who sent me the hug certificate was a guy.  This leads me to believe that he is not even viewing the e-mails he is forwarding to me.  He just sees it in his mailbox and forwards it to me.  Surely he wouldn’t have forwarded me a hug certificate right?  This particular suspect also has the annoying habit of forwarding me the exact same e-mails he receives from another friend of ours who also FWDs me his stupid e-mails.  Therefore, I receive seven e-mails from one friend, then the next day I receive the very same e-mails from another who was one of the recipients of the original seven.  So that brings me to the 14 e-mails I mentioned in the beginning.  Seven FWDs from one person, the same seven from another guy the next day.  What the fuck?!   Maybe next time I will just forward the damn things right back to the guy.  That sort of passive aggression is just my style.