A Printable Certificate for Breaking Chain Letters

A Printable Certificate for Breaking Chain Letters

Chain Breaker 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.


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:

The Certificate of Chain Letter Nullification 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)

Enjoy! :-)


  1. Lori 17 years ago

    I think you may have surpassed the genius of the gauntlet of productivity with this one. LOVE IT. I’ve no idea how you come up with this stuff, but I’m so glad you do!

  2. Capri 17 years ago

    I’m looking for more people like me, who can’t stand chain letters in any way, shape or form. I’ve stopped writing to several people because all they ever do is send stupid forwards, and ignore or get mad at my debunks, then they ditch me and send stupid chain email to others in my family or other friends I find out about. So if chain email is more important to them than my friendship, and if they think they are actually showing they care and are being friends by sending this crap, who needs them? I’ve resorted to making my own little sounding off place, where I can write out my screaming fits every time some voluntary idiot sends me a fwd. I’ve also created a chat group that, unlike any other general fun chit-chatter group, does not allow chain letters of any kind. And I’m not interested in people trying to defend or excuse passing on forwards, because IMO, there’s simply no excuse, especially when I’ve already told them about snopes.com and other hoax busting sites. And now chain letters are taking over blogs too. A friend of mine often posts these dumb chain mail surveys in her journal. Argh – she should know better. And now there are memes, specifically designed for the blogosphere, but chain letters all the same. Blech. And people keep doing them, even though they feel like it’s a chain letter, and they really want to be nice and not hurt anyone’s feelings etc. Yadda yadda. I’m way past that and would like to see a lot more people wake up and join the backlash against the fwds.

  3. Carlos 17 years ago

    Great idea! I will send it to all my contacts for them to resend it! :-D

    Now seriously, I get upset also when receiving these messages and, even worst, those advising that hotmail will charge something or Nokia is giving mobiles for free… it is so easy to check whether they are true or not that it pisses me off that they are forwarded as they arrive.

    Thanks for your blog, I have been around here for a few weeks and always find interesting stuff.

  4. LXA 17 years ago

    Nice idea! :)

  5. Eric 17 years ago


  6. Jon 17 years ago

    LOL! Brilliant Dave! This is going to be used by a lot of people! BreaK FREE!!!

  7. Marshall 17 years ago

    You are BRILLIANT.

  8. Corrie 17 years ago

    To quote you—“YOU ROCK!”

  9. Michael 17 years ago

    Awesome, I shall save a copy for when some numpty sends me a chain letter. Great idea.

  10. Mirta 17 years ago

    Great idea! A little bit of positive reinforcement vs. self-fulfilling fearful prophecy trigger is never a miss.

  11. Roscoe 17 years ago

    Not pissed off enough. My version would be take a vicious dig at the idiots who pass the chain letters along.

  12. steve 17 years ago

    Are you sure you’re not Catholic or Phillipino?

  13. Duncan 17 years ago

    Dude, this totally rocks!

  14. Dave Seah 17 years ago

    Lori: Awesome! Glad you liked this one!

    Capri: I know your pain! I tried to make something that focused on positive energy building as opposed to creating counter-negative energy. Just sort of a personal philosophy of mine, as I see positive energy being like Clearasil on the Acne of Evil, slowly negating it. I can understand the “Nuke them. Nuke them all” sentiment all too well though :-)

    Carlos, LXA, Eric, Jon, Marshall, Corrie, Michael, Mirta, Duncan: Thanks! :-)

    Roscue: Along a similar line, fighting negative with negative just generates more conflict. It’s enough, I think, to merely take a stand for what you believe in. The act of doing that is pretty in-your-face to begin with.

    Steve: I am completely missing the connection, not being Catholic OR Filipino :-)

  15. CJ 17 years ago

    Hey Dave,
    I love it! I would suggest one change, though: “bound” to “bind”.

    In that sentence, the word “bound” is used to describe a fence-like boundary, within which it is safe for chain-letters to exist.

    “Bind” on the other hand, straps the little buggers to the nearest tree and leaves them for the crows and ants to feast upon!

    A much more fitting demise for chain letters, methinks. (Also – as an Editor in a previous life – I think the sentence reads better using the more common word, “bind”, as opposed to “bound”, which is more commonly used to describe the actions of kangaroos…)

    Excellent work, my friend! Another incredibly useful form from the creative labs at David Seah Megacorp Inc, PLC, LLC, Company!

  16. penny 17 years ago

    bless you dave. you ROCK!!! now if i can only get my mum to sign this. or at least if i sign it she’ll stop sending them to me. ;)

  17. chanio 17 years ago

    Very nice as always, my friend!

    But have you deduced after all these, what is the main purpose of chain emails? Have you seen the BCC and CC boxes?

    The main idea is to collect real addresses to send spam.

    And if you send more chains, you are also doing this…

    It would be more effective to create a working javascript that erases all the BCC and CC boxes when sending the emails. Yes, I know that most emails don’t allow javascript. I know. But if it could work, you would be sending all the email chain to hell for ever. :)

  18. Dave Seah 17 years ago

    CJ: Heh, that’s an excellent nuance! I was thinking in terms of boundaries, but it’s much more colorful with your suggestion. Awesome!!! :-)

    Penny: Good luck! As designed, the certificate allows you at minimum to NOT continue the chain, so you can ignore them.

    Chanio: That’s an interesting point! But if you’re forwarding the chains, how do the email harvesters access the list? I guess it would depend on having compromised machines in a botnet to harvest…hmm! Interesting idea!

  19. Randell 17 years ago

    dave – it works.  I broke almost 30 chains this morning after having signed it last night.  Mrs. The Fever witnessed it.  As of now, I’ve not been stricken with anything resembling certain death or maiming.  Come to think of it, I found a penny in the parking lot coming in to work this morning…ON HEADS!

  20. Mary Whitney 17 years ago

    Love it!  Yet my inner editor cannot resist or rest until telling you that it is “propAgation.”  :)

  21. Dave Seah 17 years ago

    Randell: Awesome :-)

    Mary: Oops! Fixed :-)

  22. Chainbreaker 16 years ago

    David, I am adminstrator of a facebook group called Breaking the Chain.  I would love to put up a link to your nullification certificate.  However it will not open, as the file is damaged in some way.  Please let me know when this is fixed to I can give it the attention it deserves.


  23. Dave Seah 16 years ago

    Chainbreaker: Oops, that main image link should now work…must have broke when I switched blogging platforms. The PDF appears to be fine; it may be that you need the most recent version of Adobe Acrobat Reader if you can’t view it.

  24. brandy kente 15 years ago

    Thanks alot Dave for fighting fear.

    Will pass on your certificate for all who have tortured me with chain crap.

  25. Paul Jones 13 years ago

    I have forwarded this certificate on to 30 of my closest vague acquittances with instructions that if they do not forward it on to 30 of their dearest friend they will be smitten with plague, pestulance and poverty.