Deadlier Than Pop Rocks & Coke

If you read this column and pass it on to at least 15 of your friends, your phone will ring at 7:00 p.m. and it will be the president of Banana Republic, offering you a free gift certificate to Applebee’s as a reward for your finding little abducted Penny Brown, who is suffering from a rare flesh-eating disease she contracted after cockroaches eggs she ate in an infested Taco Bell burrito hatched in her mouth.

You don’t believe me, huh? My friends sent me these stories through e-mail, so it <em>must</em> be true. I’ll forward them to you, just to prove their validity. There’s nothing more I love than beginning the sick forwarding cycle all over again.

OK, so I lied. I don’t have any e-mails, because I deleted them. I cringe any time I see the letters FWD: in my inbox, because 95 percent of the time, a ridiculous urban legend is about to follow. In fact, I’ve set up Microsoft Outlook to automatically detect certain keywords and immediately make those e-mails disappear. Secret Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe? Delete. AIDS-infected hypodermic needles attached to gas pumps? Delete. Pepsi omitting “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance on their limited edition cans? Delete. Richard Gere and a poor gerbil? Delete. An aroused minister in Disney’s <em>The Little Mermaid</em>? Delete, delete, delete, and so on, and so on, and so on…</span>

However, just when I thought I got rid of my e-mail problem, the dreaded forwards began popping up elsewhere online, including networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace, instant messages and message boards.

Since people know that forwards get deleted or go unread, they’ve used tricky maneuvers to get you to read them. The forward will read “Click here to see my pics from Spring Break,” and what you get instead is “This is the ****magical kissing frog*****. Make a wish and scroll down………………………………………………………………….. If u don’t make a wish and send this 2 at least 68 of ur friends, the luv of ur life will dump u 4 sum1 prettier than u. If u do, ur crush will ask u out tomorrow! Believe me, this works!”

So much effort has been made to crack down on spammers lately. Companies have developed spam filters to detect inbox-infiltrating words as <em>Viagra</em>, <em>low mortgages</em> and <em>free software</em>. Internet service providers are suing convicted spammers for millions of dollars. But why isn’t anything being done about compulsive forwarders? Forwarding is just as bad, if not worse, than spam.

If I had my brother’s patience, I would tackle these forwards the way he does, by responding to everyone on the forward with the, “No, idiot, this is an urban legend, and here’s the true story from Snopes.com.” But honestly, I neither have the time nor the persistence.

It’s time for Internet service providers to attack forwarding head on. When something along the lines of the above examples are forwarded, the forwarder should receive forwards back tenfold. Let them be infiltrated and they’ll eventually get pissed off as well. It’s an age-old effective method – my mother used to use it me and my sister during our poking matches in the backseat of the car:

“<em>Mo-oooooom</em> ,she’s poking me!”
“Well, poke her back.”
“<em>Mo-oooooom</em>, tell her to stop!”
“She’ll stop poking you if you stop poking her.”

The poking usually stopped when the pokee got the poker back.

If all else fails, I’m just not going to be your friend anymore, so there. You’ll get taken off my friend’s list, my address book or whatever platform you use to torture me with your forwards. Would <em>you</em> remain friends with someone who constantly pokes you?

So, remember: if you don’t pass this column along, you will find yourself in a bathtub full of ice, because a man stole your kidneys after Bill Gates failed to give him the promised 6.5¢ per forwarded e-mail to help pay for his medical bills. Your love life will suffer infinitely, because now you have no kidneys. In sheer depression, you will down the deadly combination of the horse sterilization pill, Pop Rocks and Coca Cola. Why is life worth living if AOL is going to charge 10¢ per instant message you send?

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