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Respond or Die

In the sixth grade, I got a letter from this girl that I liked. I excitedly tore it open only to find that it was perhaps the worst letter I have ever received in my life.

A chain letter.

Despite the claim of giving good luck to all those who pass it along, I was worried about the consequences of not following its menacing instructions; however, I wasn’t that worried, since I eventually just threw it in the trash, more upset at the fact that it wasn’t a love letter.

I never thought much about that incident even when I received several chain letter emails (which I will call CLEs for short) later on in college. My typical response was to hit "Delete" and move on to the next email. In 1997, I received a CLE that said if I sent it to 10 other people, I could safely ignore any other subsequent CLEs for the rest of my life. I’m not particularly superstitious, but I thought it might be useful for my friends who might be (although, I still feel dirty sending it). I got a couple more CLEs since then, but I can’t even remember when, since I never thought twice about deleting them.

I thought I was finally free of this plague of the internet, but I was wrong. I received a CLE on March 11, 2004.

This message has been sent to you for good luck in sex. The original is in a room in Palaiseau. It has been sent around the world nine times. Now sex has been sent to you. The "Hot Sex Fairy" will visit you within four days of receiving this message, provided you, in turn, send it on. If you don’t, then you will never receive good sex again for the rest of your life. You will eventually become celibate, and your genitals will rot and fall off. This is no joke! Send copies to people you think need sex (who doesn’t)? Don’t send money, as the fate of your genitals has no price. Do not keep this message. This message must leave your e-mail in 96 hours. Please send ten copies and see what happens in four days. Since the copy must tour the world, you must send it. This is true, even if you are not superstitious. GOOD SEX, but please remember: 10 copies of this message must leave your e-mail in 96 hours or you will not have good sex again for the rest of your life!!!!

I am pretty sure that the person who sent this to me thought it was funny and sent it on as a "joke", but it simply boosts the ego of the person who originated the message and adds unwanted traffic to the system. In effect, CLEs are just as bad as spam! Apparently, there are still some people out there who don’t understand this. I appreciate the occassional joke, but this particular message is somewhat threatening, and I detest threats.

For those people who actually do believe in these things, I contend that someone would never send a CLE to their real friends. What if your "friend" was unable to check his email for four days (it’s happened to me a couple of times)? Don’t you think that it’s a bit harsh to deny him "good sex again for the rest of his life" for such a trivial thing? At least with spam, you can safely ignore it without worrying about having a truck hit you or losing your genitals.

Spammers may be sociopathic, but it isn’t personal, and it isn’t specifically targeted. People who send chain letters of any type to their "friends" have no such excuse.