Forward this!

2011-12-19 00:00

I RECENTLY got one of those forwarded “I am so grateful for ...” e-mails and one of the points stated: “I am so grateful for people who send me forwards ...”

Whaaaaaaat? Seriously?

E-mail forwards are annoying, especially when you get 20 in a row from the same person and then receive them all again from dumb mutual contacts.

I’ve had an e-mail address for about 11 years now and initially forwarded mail was the coolest thing since the invention of the rock star. They were few and far apart and all brilliant gems of genius — be it funny, profound or informative.

Then I went to campus and every single person I knew there had unlimited access (or so we liked to think) to the Internet. For the next four years I was bombarded by every and any possible type of e-mail forward — the chain mail, the petitions, the jokes, the profound messages about the world, the sanctimonious platitudes on how to live a better life and cheesy you-have-a-friend-in-me sentiments that had no personal touch.

Not to forget the barrage of Indian jokes. Just because I’m brown doesn’t mean I chune the chunes of the charou or smaak the “vy posie for a dop” type LOLs.

On campus I actually had a few personal ISTs (Indian slang  translator) who would have to explain half the South African Indian jokes I received (the other half were “You know you are Indian when ...” cracks and Peru and Bala strips). Ya ya, it’s appalling but I didn’t have many “Indian lingo pro” friends at school to learn how to talk the talk.

I was over it faster than a cheetah on caffeine. I created a folder labelled “Forwards” and sent all messages beginning with FFW there without even looking at them — not deleting them in case the proverbial one day came along.

But the forwards never end. In fact, they are continually regurgitated, spreading like hepatitis every few years. There’s still Thabo Mbeki and George Bush jokes infecting my inbox every so often. The same quizzes, the same amazing facts, the same deep thoughts, the same old everything just keep rolling in like a wounded ex-lover, hoping that this time I’d care. And let’s not mention the Little Johnny and Chuck Norris jokes.

Isn’t there a way for e-mail forwards to self-destruct spontaneously in some cyber-equivalent way and simply disappear after its third lap around the world? Or some type of cyber PI who cleans out the net like a pool, killing tired mail like algae and sterilising the available information in a digital Chlorine.

Thanks to the advancement of technology, my simple e-mail filing system is inadequate to keep away the deluge of mindless forwards. They now haunt me on BlackBerry Messenger, Whatsapp, Facebook, those chewed up unoriginal blogs and YouTube videos. And then you’re chatting with some friends and suddenly one of their phones starting flashing red and they look at it, laugh and say: “Hey guys, did you hear this joke?” Save me.

Which leads me to three simple questions.

• Do people actually read their e-mails or just keep clicking forward?

• Are we running out of original ideas and entering a type of black hole of human thought?

• Do people really think that sending out 100 forwards a day make them look cool or are they just bored?

Should I really feel moved by those graphic collages of shocking iconic photos that I’ve seen so often I’ve become immune to them? And then send it to 15 of my friends. Man, I only have five friends. I feel kak about that already, you don’t have to rub it in.

So, yes, if you only send me forwards, do not expect me to reply or return or continue the chain (unless it’s something awesome).

I’m much too much of a loser to fit into the in-group of the cybersphere.

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