I was feeling pretty down one day last week, so I was happily surprised when I opened my Facebook page and found a meme post from a good friend telling me how special I was. How I was one of a kind.
Then I got to the bottom of the post and it read: I’ve sent this to nine other friends and now you must send this to 10 friends, too.
Really? Well, eff you, my dear friend. Thanks for sharing.
Another time, I was just getting over a broken heart. I didn’t cry myself to sleep that night and wake up miserable in the morning. OK: progress. That same day, I got an unexpected email from an old friend I'd lost track of, Kate. Ahh! I thought. So wonderful to hear from her!
But then I read: If you don’t pass this on within 15 minutes to 10 friends, you’ll have heartbreak for the rest of your life. You’ll die an old maid with a low credit rating. Nobody will show up at your funeral, forthcoming. However, if you do pass it on, you’ll meet the love of your life … tomorrow.
OH, JEEZ. THANKS! Just what the doctor ordered. Witch doctor, that is.
I’ve ignored so many chain letters, it may take me five lifetimes to get over all the bad luck I’ve supposedly incurred. But I’ve got to tell you, no matter how non-superstitious I am, there’s always that tiny, insistent, niggling doubt—a feeling that, if I don’t do these things, God knows what will happen. (You with me?)
My friend Michelle recently asked why I won’t open her emails. After five chain letters from her in a row, take a good freaking guess.
I once read a touching story on Facebook about a child who stood up to a bunch of other children bullying a smaller kid. I was so moved, I wanted to post it. That is, until I got to the end: Share if you agree with at least 10 friends. If you don’t, then you don’t care about bullying or about children. Huh. The subtext was really: You’re an asshole if you don’t post now. You suck royally. And you’re morally bankrupt.
A post about bullying that bullies you??? You’re attempting to shame/manipulate me, and then you want me to post it and do the same to others? Of course, I refused. Bully for me.
Fact is, I don’t want to subject my friends to this form of passive-aggressiveness, even if I love the cause. And there have been many chain posts/emails I’ve heartily believed in. However, I believe in not being rude and threatening others more.
All of this brings me back to grade school. Kids used to write notes in class—the early form of chain mail. I remember one about a girl I liked. It said: Jessica is a fat whale. Bummer. I was supposed to add something mean and pass it back. Instead, after crumpling it up, stuffing it in my lunch pail and lying about giving it to John Calvano, who was seated behind me, I would forever feel guilty for having even read it. That was preferable, though, to making others feel the way I felt—unfairly coerced. So, I chose not to participate in their nasty, juvenile antics.
I was just a child and knew it was wrong. But we’re not 12 anymore. It was bad back then. It’s worse now, because the Internet has allowed people to send within seconds—it's a mean girl's dream. Every time I read one of these chain mail posts, I’m instantly back in braids, feeling awful.
So, here’s what I propose. A chain mail letter to end all chain mail letters:
Whatever you do, please don’t post or share this with anyone. Not even your pets (goldfish excluded).
Sending chain mail to a “friend” of yours is not really friendly at all. Let’s get back to basics. You don’t threaten me and I won’t threaten you. I would, however, be interested in your latest chicken Milanese dish, because the one I made the other night wasn’t up to snuff. Also, which cut of steak do you like best? Oh, and by the way, you won’t have any bad luck if your recipes don’t turn out better than mine. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. P.S. See you at the gym. P.P.S. If you don’t go to the gym, you won’t die tomorrow. And P.P.P.S. I still love you.
[Signed and notarized]
Your real friend, Me