The other day I was checking my email, and was surprised to receive a mass email—you know, the kind where all the recipients are listed in the “to” field—from an acquaintance I barely knew. The photos attached were that of a recently-born child in their family, which seemed nice enough. However, soon afterwards I received a mass email reply from someone I didn’t know at all, with a CHAIN LETTER attached to it. The enterprising recipient, seeing an opportunity to foist the chain letter onto people she didn’t even know, bundled the chain letter as a forwarded email envelope, and artfully neglected to indicate its non-baby related payload.
Some people may say I’m getting upset over nothing, but what really burns me is that this MISCREANT took advantage of a bunch of strangers for her own salvation. She applied SPAMMY TECHNIQUES to hoodwink a bunch of baby picture recipients into taking the fall for her own crappy email superstition. I was livid at this treatment.
I hate chain letters because they’re thinly-disguised attempts to create something large on the backs of hundreds of strangers. There is, however, something magical about them; it’s interesting to think that a single person can send a letter to 10 people threatening them with misfortune…and be practically guaranteed that the chain will continue. This is particularly easy with email, a fine-but-trivial example of the psycho-mathematical forces behind pyramid schemes. Usually I just break the chain and forget about them, but this particular instance was particularly onerous in its callous disregard of my right to pursue happiness free of other people’s baggage. GRR.
INVOKING THE MAGIC
I got to thinking: If a chain letter can promise misfortune, what would be the most credible countermeasure? If people were making up their own chainletters, I figured that this gave me license to create my own magic certificate to draw on the power of like-minded people. And thus, the Chain Breaker was born. I call it the Certificate of Chain Letter Nullification. Here’s what it looks like:
It’s basically some stock Illustrator CS2 borders and some clip art from the Historical Ornaments and Designs clip art book I have. The anti-chain letter mojo comes from the following declaration:
There are times when the forces of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt conspire to coerce Good People to aid the propogation of Certain Letters of Ambiguous Benefit or Misfortune. Such Letters are conceived to Frighten people into serving the Ego of a Master Jerk. We can not, as free men and women, allow such Threats to bound our Happiness. By signing and dating this certificate, you declare that you are a Creator of Positive Energies. Together, we break the Tyranny of the Chain. We declare that we are defined by our Actions, not our Fears.
Then you sign the document, and have a witness sign it too, and the unbinding magic should take effect if you, in your heart of hearts, agree with the statement. Since there are many of us who believe this, I’m figuring that this is some pretty strong magic. Failing that, I suppose we could always sic the Libertarian Party on the next chain-letter sendin’ yutz to cross our paths.
In any case, I feel a little better. Perhaps some of you out there will find this certificate equally calming. Next time you get a chain letter, print out this certificate, sign it, and help drive back the FUD.
» Download Certificate of Chain Letter Nullification (PDF, 360K)