Friday, November 12, 2010

My 4 Year Old Daughter Is Dying From Brain Cancer Please Can You Help?

And if you’re a normal feeling, compassionate human being that’s you sucked in right there.

What do you have to do to help? Well, apparently you just have to forward a very mawkish email on to everybody in your address book. And you mustn’t break the chain. In fact you won’t because I’m going to insert a picture of a small child lying in a hospital bed with a tube coming out of their nose just to yank those heart strings of yours a little harder. If I’m being feeling really manipulative I’ll ensure the child is bald. Just to bring home their plight and add a few more unconscious associations into the mix which is currently making you feel both guilty and responsible. Cancer. Chemotherapy. Great Ormond Street.

And it’s not like I’m asking you for money. I’m just asking you to forward an email. AOL or Google or some other fantastically generous internet company will donate some money every time the email is forwarded. Because they are going to take time out from their busy schedules to track the email. Isn’t that amazing? You can save my child’s life just by forwarding this email. Just by launching another distasteful dollop of internet spam into the electronic ether and clogging up everyone else’s In-Box with another perfect example of pointless emotional blackmail.

Because if you had half a brain you would simply do an internet search on the first line of the email and be directed to one of any number of email hoax sites which would confirm that the email you have just received is the biggest load of old bollocks to hit your PC screen since you erroneously accessed The Swinging Seventies web site. It’s crap. You’ve just needlessly upset all your friends and work colleagues and proved yourself to be a chump of the highest order.

I get emails like the one described above quite regularly. I can usually smell the bullshite emanating from the first line but I always do a Google search anyway just to confirm. I have never yet received a genuine ‘you can save my child’s life by forwarding this’ email. I then reply to the sender pointing out it is a hoax and supplying a link so they can confirm it themselves.

Two things make me mad.

One is the stupidity of the person who sent the email to me in the first place but, hey, we all get caught out at one time or other, don’t we? So I’ll let that pass.

Two – the cynical, screwed up, emotionally backward, ego shrivelled little turd who spent time crafting this email in the first place and then spewing it out into the real world. What on earth do they get out of it? What possible pleasure can you glean from the thought that millions of people are going to feel upset or saddened at the fictional plight of a made-up kid lying in a non-existent hospital bed?

Because what makes me really mad is the sure fact that, the law of averages being what they are, one of the recipients of this email is going to be some poor mother or father whose kid really is in hospital fighting for their life. And this poor mother and father won’t think this email is a hoax – I doubt such a thought would even enter their head while they are holding their child’s hand through the portal of an intensive care screen. They would no doubt think: those poor parents; going through what we’re going through, we must help them. And thus they take time and emotional energy away from the plight of their genuinely ill child – time and energy they can ill afford – to forward on this selfish, nasty, emotionally stunted piece of forgery to all their friends and family, who knowing of their friend’s plight will also forward it on in their honour.

And thus the chain is established.

I’m not sure what can be done about this type of email abuse, except to voice the hope that I am not the only person in the world who is suspicious enough to check these missives out for myself before hitting the Send button. Possibly there is nothing of any real consequence that any of us can do.

Instead then, I invite you all to join with me in hoping that there is a very hot, very ferociously cruel inner circle of hell set especially aside for the people that create these emails and send them out into the world in the first place and that Old Nick receives them all as a celestial email attachment very soon.

Hey Satan – you’ve got mail!



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50 comments:

Rol said...

I'm lucky, I don't like children, so I don't even get sent these emails.

Now if it was about a SQUIRREL with brain cancer... then I'm a sucker.

Steve said...

Rol: what about a squirrel with diseased nuts?

Selina Kingston said...

Yes I'm with you. I'm impressed that so many of my friends and colleagues who forward these on to me are so compassionate but I get so angry at the level of manipulation here. As parents we will be moved at the sight of a desperately ill child but it's cruel to play on our sensitivities like this.
I may be simple but who benefits, given that no cash is asked for?

misssy m said...

Great post Steve. I pretty much delete everything that comes into my inbox that is prefixed with FWD or Pass this on etc. But yeah- what do they get out of this? It's not as if they can see the reaction of people as they open it...or track where it's even going.

Anyway, Greetings! I wanted to speak to you about an opportunity. I have inherited a great deal of money but I cannot access it it in my country because of the government. I would be willing to give you a 10% share if you could access it for me using your UK bank account....Simply send me your bank details and a scan of your passport and I'll do the rest.

Steve said...

Selina: the pay-off to this kind of activity is beyond me - I just can't see what anybody gets out of it. It's the ultimate in time wasting.

Misssy M: I'm getting to be the same. I rarely pass on jokey emails now as well - even good ones. Anything that directs me to 'forward' or says I have to pass it on just gets my goat and I hit the delete key with a great deal of pleasure. As for my bank account details, may I pass you over to my esteemed lawyer friend in Mogadishu? He is extremely experienced in this kind of transaction...

Gorilla Bananas said...

I don't remember getting an email like that. They must think gorillas are too hard-hearted to care, which I find more offensive than the hoax. And squirrels - screw those little nut thieves.

vegemitevix said...

What can I say? Exactly my thoughts. Exactly. Yet I do find people pass this crappola on. Nice, somewhat naiive, but nice people. Makes me mad.

Nota Bene said...

Well said. I always just dump these in the electronic waste bin...which is a shame because one day I'll get a genuine plea...

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: so gorillas are at least hard hearted towards squirrels...?

Vegemitevix: yes, it's always nice people. That's almost the worst thing about this scam - it targets nice people. Horrible people like me just delete them straight away.

Nota Bene: but that's just it; I don't think you will. A genuine plea for help will have a proper web site, a media campaign, newspaper headlines, etc... it won't leave things in the hands of people possibly or possibly not forwarding an email around the world.

Sarah said...

I used to get this crap sent on by one friend. I told her to check things out on Hoaxbuster before she sent it to me, but she's an old lady so forgets.
So I check what she sends and then send her the link to show it's a hoax. She now knows how to distinguish this sort of crap (and it's all crap) and doesn't pollute cyberspace with sending things on any more.
In fact if anyone ever sends me a hoax I write back and tell them. I get a lot less crap now I can tell you!

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

It always amazes me when friends I know pass this rubbish on. I always do what you do, check the hoax sites and discover that it is spam and has usually been going round for years.
I do hate all the mushy stuff too; you are an angel, pass this on to all your friends who are angels and you will have good fortune forever more. Delete...delete...delete...

Steve said...

Sarah: I've started doing the same but one particular source doesn't seem to take the hint!

Trish: yep, or the ones that say something good will happen in the next 5 minutes if you pass this on. I delete them and find something good happens straightaway: I've suddenly got more disk space on my harddrive.

Mark said...

The whole word of spam email is annoying, not just hoax chain mails. And the spam filters are not great either. As for viruses - con't get me started... At least I use a Mac whcih makes life easier.

Heather in Lapland said...

i loath these emails, in fact any kind of email that is passed on forwarded, jokes, pleas for help, the lot. I don't even read them, just delete them.

What worries me, apart from the fact that some sicko took time out of their day to create this tripe, is what if that picture lands in the inbox of her parents? Clearly, they have just downloaded a picture from the internet somewhere but it not outside the realms of possibility that, if passed on enough, it will end up being sent to the parents of the poor child.

Steve said...

Mark: I've heard that Macs are more secure but someday some teenage baddass is gonna hack a Mac fo-sho!

Heather: good point - the pictures are inevitably real and are of someone's child. I'd pop an artery if someone used a pic of my kids in this way!

autumnraven said...

Thank you! I've informed well meaning friends that these things are hoaxes (with link to snopes.com) and they get offended. ::sigh:: And I never pass on any forward this for any reason. Actually forwards are an insult. If the only attention one is willing to give is to hit send on something I've probably already deleted at least twice...well thanks for nothing.

Steve said...

Autumnraven: exactly; if you want to email your friends... well, just write a proper email with real news in it! Don't just forward a joke or a bunch of "amusing pictures". Certainly don't send me fake begging letters that originate from a bored after school computer club member.

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

I have a few family members who love to send these types of emails. I just got one recently that declared that the Old Testament Bible stories had been proved true because they found enormous skulls of giants in the desert somewhere. There were even doctored photos to boot. And of course you were supposed to say a prayer, wish upon a star, stand up, turn around six times, kiss your rosary, stand on your head, and then send the email to your 398 closest friends and wait. Because you wish was most certainly going to come true in the same number of seconds that you spend sending the email to all your friends.

Steve said...

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip: hey, you do know that all the Bible ones are true, right? Photoshop is the devil's invention and was created to test us. Tch, I thought everybody knew that! :-)

Clippy Mat said...

These emails are so bloody annoying! But I rarely open them any more just hit DELETE as soon as I read that it's a forward.. because why do people insist on forwarding an email with every bugger else's email address on - which means the actual message is miles down the screen. arrggh.
Plus, I think I've had every email in the world at least once by now.
;-)

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

Maybe I need more Jesus in my life....

Steve said...

Clippy Mat: yes, I know what you mean, I hate having to scroll though an email address trail that is 5 pages long just to get to a puerile email at the end of it all!

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip: I'm sure he's got a hotmail account...

libby said...

So agree with you here. I have a friend that for some reason seems to love these 'kittens/jokes/good luck' things and sends them to me in some sort of round robin....now I would trust my friend with anything and she has a very responsible job...WTF? she seems to have a blind spot....I agree that delete is the only option.

Steve said...

Libby: the problem with these emails is that they appeal to the weakest element of human nature - sentiment - as opposed to our more logical emotions.

Being Me said...

I'm part of the hard-hearted club. No squirrel would ever want his diseased nuts in my hands. I mean, an email regarding a plea for a cure of same, of COURSE. *gutter mind*

These come from the deeply depraved and for what? Not even famed notoriety, for who knows who they are? They'd not like to be caught would they? They would likely be strung from the nearest tree by scores of willing kind-hearts.

Steve said...

Being Me: yes, there is even something sad and [scornfully] pitiful about these people's hopeless anonymity - the fact that even in their success at getting these emails out they are still big fat nobodies.

Alienne said...

I just delete anything like that that turns up in my in box - call me a hardened old cynic, but I just don't believe any e-mails like that.

Michelle Twin Mum said...

I can not be arsed with any kind of chain email. I got one recently about forwarding recipes -I was WTF - how long have you known me?? arrgh

Mich x

TheUndertaker said...

Luckily I don't get too many of that kind, but the poor sucker that sends me the emails I have to forward instantly to a gizzillion friends to get luck/money/sex/lovers/blessings etc,unless I want the worlds plagues to him. get a quick reply back not to bother me ever again, unless they want something really BAD to happen to them. And that comment was ONE sentence, geez.

Steve said...

Alienne: some mornings I just delete every email in my in-box even when I know they're genuine. I'm just a maverick like that.

Mich: recipes? What, like, forward this recipe to 5 of your friends and something really amazing will happen? Bizarre!

TheUndertaker: remind me never to try and sell you anything by email.

Kelloggsville said...

I have only sent this comment to the people I like the most. If you forward this comment on to ten people within the next 2 seconds $10,000 will land in your bank account from Nigeria. Too late....you were too slow, please send your bank account details to Mr Ababadabawada in Lagos so he can arrange for you to be credited directly with proof of 10 email forwardings.

billythekid said...

"since you erroneously accessed The Swinging Seventies web site."

-- Nice try.

I agree with everyone who's posted so far. I'm continually surprised that the occasional email does get sent to me by people who, I'd thought, were fairly intelligent.

There should be a sort of driving safety course for internet use that you need to pass before being allowed an ISP.

My mother in law is one of the cases that are "beyond help" to the point that I now automatically filter *all* incoming emails from her into the spam folder.

billythekid said...

another thing that annoys me, when they send these emails to me as part of their many(but I suspect ever dwindling) friends without obfuscating my email address or BCCing.

WTH is up with that?!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I think these emails need to have a complete ban on them if that is at all possible. I find them a disgrace to our society. In these modern times of technology it is easy for some ignorant twat to hit the enter button and send these vermin emails to one and all without a care towards the consequences. People matter in this world. Hoax emailers don't.

I get emails asking for money, had one not so long ago asking for £1500 for someone in order to get himself a new passport and ticket to get home to USA. He was a well known blogging friend of mine and a Facebook friend too. It's scary stuff to think that someone went to the trouble of finding mutual friends to hoax.

CJ xx

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: bank details on way to you via email...

Billythekid: "There should be a sort of driving safety course for internet use" - now that I like. Or some kind of intelligence test to acquire a computer license? Horribly elitist on the downside but on the up, no more spam. And yes - don't share my private email address with the rest of the sadsacks in your address book!

CJ: presumably some people must fall for these requests for money otherwise they wouldn't proliferate so much. Some people plainly shouldn't be allowed anywhere near an email account.

Livi said...

I used to get these all the time and they drove me up the wall. It was only after a couple of years not forwarding them that people gave up sending them to me!
It is disgusting that people write them, so wrong.

missbehaving said...

It's the lowest of the low, and regular low is pretty base, so much shite about, but using a sick child when there are actually so many sick children worthy of our time/energy/donations.

Wanderlust said...

I think I'm going to send an email to all my friends telling them that if they don't forward it, but instead delete it IMMEDIATELY it will bring them 4 years of good luck.

Owen said...

I don't know which are worse, the sick people who write such messages in the first place, or the gullible ones who then forward far and wide. They are always so obviously bogus, but perhaps they fill a need for some folks to feel like they are doing something useful ? Now, what was that about Mogadishu ? Now there's a place where things are happening !

Steve said...

Livi: it's just a shame some people take so long to take the hint!

MissBehaving: this is what disturbs me the most - the pictures they use on their emails are obviously of really sick children. Where the hell do they get them from?

Wanderlust: what a brilliant idea for a chain letter! I might try that myself.

Owen: possibly you're right but what a cop out if people think sending on a simple email is going to "help" some sick child somewhere and earn them a brownie point to make them feel less guilty about their selfish lifestyle! Mogadishu is where the party is happening! At least it sounds like a party...

the fly in the web said...

So it is missy m who has been offering to give me vast amounts of money....

But I miss out as I delete such things as soon as they appear, like all the grubby FWs exploiting the emotions of decent people.

Steve said...

the fly in the web: you're missing out - if you've never been emotionally black[e]mailed, you've never lived...

Janete Cabral said...

It's awful that people result to email headlines like that to suck you in....

Karma...

Steve said...

Janete: it gets us all in the end...

The Poet Laura-eate said...

That's akin to the chain mails telling you you will receive bad luck if you do not pass them on.

Like Rol, being child-free, I don't tend to receive this particular type of spam, but they are all pretty annoying and manipulative in my view.

Steve said...

Laura: breaking chain letters gives me a real thrill. I love doing it. Therefore it's a pleasure to get those.

Nikkii said...

I Snopes everything and I used to write back to the sender and nyah-nyah a bit until I realised I was just clogging up the intertubes with that too - it's all just web cholesterol innit?

Steve said...

Nikkii: it is indded. We all need some internet Benecol to declog ourselves!

susie @newdaynewlesson said...

I have actually gotten legitimate emails about needing money or for bone marrow testing and stuff. They are emails that usually have a legit email and phone number attached to them to check out.

Steve said...

Susie: I think that's the point - the legit ones have a kosher contact point or someway to verify them. Either way a Google search of some of the text contained in the email will soon tell you whether it's real or not.