E-mail forwards could hurt you

The Baltimore Sun

Here's the message I'm trying to get out to friends and acquaintances these days: Don't forward any more stupid Internet jokes to my in-box.

Don't forward any more videos with the subject line "YOU GOTTA SEE THIS!" that show a frightened deer leaping across six lanes of interstate traffic or a cute 5-year-old landing a 600-pound shark on his dad's fishing boat.

Don't forward another "HEALTH ALERT!" about the latest killer staph infection or another "COMPUTER ALERT!" about the latest virus that's going to wipe out my hard drive.

Don't forward another "BRAIN TEASER!" that asks me to jot down how many times a week I'd like to dine out in a restaurant, then add, multiply and subtract certain other figures to somehow arrive at - ta-daa! - my age.

This is not quite as amusing as you think it is.

Plus I get freaked out by having to do all that math.

What else don't I want you to forward?

OK, don't forward anything tagged "THIS IS IMPORTANT!" about how next Monday, everyone's cell phone number will suddenly become available to telemarketers. These always turn out to be a crock and people get all worked up for nothing.

Don't forward anything titled "A FRIEND IS ..." or "YOU KNOW YOU'RE A BALTIMORON IF ..." followed by a long list of qualities or traits that friends or, um, Baltimorons supposedly possess.

And don't ever, ever forward one of those gooey inspirational chain-letter e-mails where I'm supposed to read it and send it off to 10 other people within five minutes in order to have fortune smile upon us. Because I will hunt you down and make you pay.

In fact, let's sum up all of the above by saying this: Don't forward anything to me ever again.

No matter how cute, clever, important or uplifting you think it is, don't send it my way, OK?

I say this because my in-box is reaching the breaking point with this stuff.

Every day I have to wade through dozens of these dopey e-mails just to get to the e-mails I actually need to read.

And that's not counting all the other junk mail I have to wade through: the one from the swell guy in Sierra Leone who wants to give me $5 mil to move his inheritance into this country; the one from the Ukrainian woman who saw my profile online and wants to meet me (trust me, hon, you'll be disappointed); the one announcing I've won the grand prize (800,000 euros!) in the big Netherlands lottery.

So your jokes, videos, brain-teasers, etc. are just adding to the clutter. And my head's about to explode.

All I do for hours every day is waste time by looking at these dopey e-mails and hitting the delete key.

I hit the delete key so much I now have some kind of tendonitis in that finger.

The finger is swollen to, I don't know, 10 times the size of my other fingers. It throbs constantly.

Is there even a name for that sort of injury? Computer finger? I'm not trying to make more of this than it is, but "computer finger" really doesn't get at the essence of the injury.

While we're on the subject, let me also take a moment to address my retired friends, who tend to forward a disproportionate amount of the corny jokes, lame videos, panicky health alerts, etc, that reach my in-box.

Friends, first of all, let me say this: I'm glad you're enjoying your retirement.

And it's really great to hear from you - although not, perhaps, every five minutes via e-mail.

Finally, I'm happy you got that new computer from Dell or wherever, and it sure does work well, especially the function that lets you forward interesting things from the Internet.

But the fact is, some of the people you send this stuff to are still working.

And between work and family commitments, these people still lead rather busy lives.

Which means they might not always have time to, you know, read all the jokes and look at all the videos and study all the brain-teasers you have so kindly been forwarding.

So maybe you retired folks might want to lighten up on the volume of stuff you send out, so people don't go completely insane culling through it all every day.

Maybe you could even think about not forwarding anything at all and just savoring it yourself.

I'm sure this would be fine with your working friends, who ... oh, look at that!

Even as I write this, the little icon at the bottom of the screen lit up, indicating I have a new e-mail.

Well, let's open it up and take a peek, shall we?

Uh-oh. It's from a middle-aged friend.


It's multiple-choice. The first question is: "What builds strong bodies 12 ways?"

I'm going to say d) Wonder Bread.

Because the other choices are just ridiculous.

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