You know, I sure have been an Internet user for a long time. I had email access from back before there was a World Wide Web. I remember when gopher and ftp were the best ways to get data from the net and when most newsgroups were still usable (even the alt.sex hierarchy -- or so I've been told). Sure, it's only a decade or so, but that's still pretty respectable in Internet time. The days of the real early net were before me (there are still old timers who can call me 'whipper snapper' or 'newbie'), but I have been here quite a while.
Practically speaking, what this means is that I remember when the Darwin awards were born. I was there when the Goodtimes Virus took its first steps. I sure wasn't around when the Mrs. Fields Cookie Recipe story started (sometime in the 1930s), but I do remember when it made it's email debut gowned in glittering haut couture from Neiman-Marcus. I enjoyed Red Velvet Cake at the reception.
I remember getting chain letters via snail mail from way back. But I was on the net when some wag thought that the idea translated well to email (Where do I stick the dollar? The disk drive?). I've heard that joke, I know that story, and I've seen it all before. And if I haven't, I probably will, when someone just like you sends it to me -- for the twelfth time.
If there's a real virus warning my employer or one of my ISP admins will let me know. And if I want to hear about killer spiders or horrible occurrences I'll watch the Discovery channel or FOX. In addition, I know where to go to check that the latest new story is really just an urban legend. If I want to laugh, I know some great joke sites and if I want you to have my email it's because I want to hear from you -- not the fictitious chairman of Microsoft, Disney, or some kid with cancer who's collecting whatever.
When I do get a strange story (sign this petition, watch out for this virus, protest this act of congress, send this to everyone you know) I check before I hit that 'Forward' button. I find out whether it's been debunked before sending it on. If others did the same, I wouldn't have gotten it in the first place. I don't follow orders like a sheep. If some semi-anonymous forwarded missive tells me to send this to anyone and everyone, well, I don't. And the next time I get any sort of email threatening bad luck if I don't... I will curse the person who sends it to me.
But I figure maybe other people don't have the time to learn where to check. Maybe they are too busy reading all their pointless forwarded email. Maybe that's why I have some friends who regularly send me crap, but who don't have time to type up a quick hello and things here are fine in the Real World (tm) -- of course maybe it's because I'm rude and insulting (and at this point I hardly care). But just in case you are overwhelmed with email, vexed about viruses, stressed about spiders... here's where to go to ease your mind (and mine, if it keeps you away from that Forward button):
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