Please don’t send me your chain letter

People swimming

I was ranting to my husband this morning about all the “tasks” being assigned on FaceBook whereby people are asked to post pictures of their favourite albums or book covers WITHOUT ANY EXPLANATION!

I was annoyed because I couldn’t understand how posting a picture of a book you loved, but not telling me why you loved it, doesn’t tell me very much about who you are and what you like to read. It’s a bit like going to book group and then not being allowed to talk about the book.

My husband gently explained that the requirement to post without comment was designed to lower the entry barrier so that people could participate without getting too anxious or feeling judged about their choices. He said it takes a lot of confidence to express your feelings and opinions and the ‘rule’ about not making comments makes it easier for people to join in.

“It’s all right for you and your family” he said. “You can all write, and heaven knows you all have opinions and aren’t afraid to share them”. Too true. We all have a lot to say and we aren’t backward in coming forward, as my mother used to say.

Chastened, I’ve had to change my stance on this FaceBook phenomena.

A friend has tagged me to share five of my favourite books and I can’t wait to do just that. I did complain about not being able to make any comments, but she said I could do whatever I liked, which is good because I’m not very good at conforming to rules.

I thought briefly about sharing the titles of books that I’d like to read, rather than books I’d actually read, just to make it more interesting, but that might confuse people so I’ll try to stick to the rules as much as I can. If you’d like to know which books I recommend, there’s a list here.

On the other hand, I have yet to be convinced about the value or worth of all these email chain letters that are going around. If you aren’t familiar with these, then let me explain that they usually ask you to share something with a person you’ve never met and then send the request on to 20 of your friends to share with 20 of their friends. The idea is that you’ll get a number of recipes, inspirational quotes or poems from people that you’ve never met. It’s a bit like pyramid selling without the selling.

 I thought I was the only person who dislikes chain letters, but it turns out that I’m not.

My friend said that she had received one about sending inspirational quotes to support and empower women, but she didn’t understand quite what she was supposed to do (the instructions weren’t very clear) so instead of feeling good about herself she said she felt stupid and uninspired.

Nothing is more disempowering that feeling dumb.

Another friend chipped in and said that she loved the idea of supporting other women, but she didn’t like the vaguely threatening tone of the email or the time limits. She also said she felt bad for women who don’t actually have 20 friends. What if you only have five friends?

Chain letters often contain high levels of emotional blackmail. If you don’t send the email on you will “break the chain” (be a bad person) or you’ll suffer some kind of bad luck.

The chain letter craze started in the USA in the late 19th Century and often involved people distributing cures for various ailments or asking for small amounts of money.

It may surprise you to know that chain letters asking for money (even small amounts) or any kind of valuable goods are illegal in the United States and were banned in Queensland in 1935. The other states of Australia thought that they were a craze that would die out naturally, with one prominent NSW Police Officer stating, “there’s a fool born every minute but there’s a limit to the credulity of the public”. I often wonder about this given that people still seem to feel obliged to send chain letters on, even when they don’t want to.

I’m not suggesting that a recipe swapping chain letter is by any means illegal, but they can be annoying (especially if you get the same one three times) so please don’t send them to me.

I think the intention behind empowering women with inspirational quotes is lovely, so if you feel like sharing some love, just send a nice email to your (five or more) friends. They don’t have to be women. I’m sure they will appreciate that you are thinking about them.

Alternatively, just put your nice inspirational quote on FB or Instagram and share it with the world.

12 thoughts on “Please don’t send me your chain letter

  1. I recently semi-participated in the recipe text chain. I shared a recipe, and by doing so got in touch with someone I haven’t seen in over a decade. However I didn’t send it to 20 friends, and didn’t tell my friend I broke the chain.

    On inspirational quotes for women, although I like a good quality quote, I have recently started to get a tad frustrated by some quotes. Often there is an underlying tone somewhat suggesting that all us women are constantly down about ourselves and need inspiring. The same content is not created for or targeted (or at least not in the same way) to men, and I wonder if that is because men don’t like quotes, or because there is an assumption that they already hold their own, therefore won’t be interested in being told to reach for the stars.

    Of course I have participated in saving many quotes to my camera roll, but I’m picky about the quality or intent of them now.

  2. I recently semi-participated in the recipe text chain. I shared a recipe, and by doing so got in touch with someone I haven’t seen in over a decade. However I didn’t send it to 20 friends, and didn’t tell my friend I broke the chain. I also thought this was a dated activity when I received it.

    On inspirational quotes for women, although I like a good quality quote, I have recently started to get a tad frustrated by some quotes. Often there is an underlying tone somewhat suggesting that all us women are constantly down about ourselves and need inspiring. The same content is not created for or targeted (or at least not in the same way) to men, and I wonder if that is because men don’t like quotes, or because there is an assumption that they already hold their own, therefore won’t be interested in being told to reach for the stars.

    Of course I have participated in saving many quotes to my camera roll, but I’m picky about the quality or intent of them now.

    1. Hi there and thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I also love a pithy quote but your point about us accepting the idea that we need more help to reach our full potential Is very interesting.
      Do we paint ourselves as needy in some way or is it just that men are expected to be more stoic? I know some men seem very confident but I’m sure there are many who would like a bit of encouragement and support.

      1. Hi 🙂

        I have no doubt many men would enjoy and benefit from exposure to much of the content targeted at women. Maybe we can find some men (or just one) among our family and friends willing to change their gender on social media for a fortnight to see if they like the content.

      2. That’s a very interesting idea. I don’t know anyone who would be willing to do that but it would be a fascinating experiment. I actually don’t think all men would like it as I don’t like it that much myself. Not only do you get messages of support, you also get a lot of content about how you need to look better/different. That kind of stuff annoys me.
        Years ago there was a fabulous documentary series (British) where they actually did experiments like this. One was where a black person became a white person and went to the football. He said it was a totally different experience. Another was where a female became a man. I used to tape these documentaries and show them to my TAFE students.

  3. Another great read with the added bonus of a reading list! I recently heard Julia Baird interviewed about her book Phosphorescence and thought that’s one for the reading list. Some of the requests for book titles or album covers have sparked my curiosity and I have often followed up with the person directly why they chose it. I had no idea a colleague studied ancient history. New connection right there! I’ve received some good tips, so I’m not particularly annoyed with these requests. I’ve similarly found some great podcasts the same way. Very handy in these ‘Covinead’ times. I must admit, however, after the 6th request for inspirational quotes last week at work, my patience was tested. I had participated in one such request amongst a private group of friends and received some lovely messages from complete strangers — well that was nice. Then it took the workplace by storm. Now, I’m no longer a fan, especially at work! Lesson learned.

    1. Yes, I’m quite enjoying people posting their favourite books and music. It’s quite nice to be able to get to know people a little better and heaven knows we all have a bit more time for reading these days, although I’m finding it a little difficult to concentrate.
      I think the idea of sending something inspirational to someone who don’t know is rather lovely, but as you say, it seems to be getting out of hand and I can’t stand all the rules and conditions (and sometimes even threats) that come with the request. It makes me feel obligated when I didn’t actually volunteer for anything.
      Must rush off now and post my next book cover!

  4. Interesting read. I was asked on FB by a friend without option, to post a photo of myself as a child. I only have 2 because I do not have access to my parent’s photo albums (another story). When I replied to my friend that I couldn’t and explained, I received a LOL! response. Where do you go from there ? All I would like to say is that disappointing friends by not participating is their problem not yours. I join in those that give me joy or a nice feeling eg. 10 albums in 10 days . Makes me revisit what brings or brought me happiness. Thanks for the chance to join in :)-

    1. I hadn’t really thought about people who might not want to share their pasts (for a variety of reasons). A LOL doesn’t quite seem appropriate to me either.
      I’ve been enjoying your album covers, BTW.

      1. Me too. I went to my boxes of albums and didn’t have to think hard about my choices. Could have another top 10 :)-

  5. I couldn’t agree more with all these sentiments and yes Mr T, I am never backward in coming forward with my opionions and comments. But it is starting to stress me out. Here I was at 8pm last night thinking I hadn’t posted my book cover or done my FB “chores” for the day. I deleted the last recipe chain letter but I am waiting for my 20 recipes from the previous one. I also hate those FB posts that say “if you don’t share/copy and paste/like this post you don’t believe in the cause (whatever it is)”. This is not necessarily true and I didn’t even know how to copy and paste until recently and yes, 20 friends!! Great post Margaret.

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback. I think we ‘older’ people are spending a lot of time on FB lately because, let’s face it, there’s not a lot to do except housework which I hate.

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