I’m a huge fan of technology and have been since I was a little kid and gadgets get me about as excited as a vampire at the Red Cross Transfusion Supply Centre. Computers and the internet are dreams come true because the world is virtually at my feet and I can use these tools not only to create stuff out of little more than my imagination but also to wander endlessly in my quest for omniscience. The internet allows us not only to read static pages of information, but to post comments, chat with people on the other side of the planet in real-time, and send e-mail messages complete with sounds and images.
I love both e-mail and snail mail. There’s nothing like getting an actual letter in your mailbox every once in a while with a real hand-written letter or a greeting card. E-cards say to me, “My electronic calendar just reminded me it is your birthday so I’m sending this to you because it’s free and much easier than walking to the mailbox. It’s been nearly two minutes since I’ve been away from Facebook and that’s all the time I’m willing to spend on wishing you a happy birthday.”
And I love getting packages! I don’t know what’s better… getting a surprise gift from someone in the mail or having an item I ordered on-line finally arrive after days (or weeks) of tracking its delivery on the internet.
But for most communications e-mail cannot be beat. The speed at which you can get a response is kind of scary but nobody has to deal with another’s poor penmanship. And, there is spell-check for those of us on the ball and wanting to get the message across without looking like a dunce.
I currently have eleven e-mail accounts — three at work (one is purely internal as part of the company’s business software), six personal Hotmail accounts (three usernames on two domains… one is for WordPress stuff, one is for personal messages, my original Hotmail account used to be for personal messages but is now Grand Central Station for spam and scams, one is attached to networking sites, one for a website I used to have but now I use it as a contact receptacle for auto-response messages for on-line shopping, and one is simply parked), a Yahoo account I had to open to get a Flickr account, and the e-mail account given me by my ISP. I think I also have a Gmail account, but haven’t used it in years and I’m not sure if it has evaporated into cyberspace. My wife is a dilettante with only two accounts, and I have to help her to use them to their full potential.
It sounds like an inefficient way of doing things but I’m easily distracted so having task-specific accounts helps me go and send a message or look for a response to a previous message without being lured into a whole bunch of other chit-chat. I don’t get all that much actual communication of any real value anyways — mostly just a lot of crap finds its way into my various in-boxes.
Bone fide spam doesn’t bother me much because it’s easily identified as such and just as easily ignored and trashed. E-mail scams, which I generally get in my dedicated scammer account, are kind of satisfying — I consider it my civic duty to respond and try to maintain as much communication as possible with scammers because every minute that they’re tied up with me means one less minute they’re bilking old ladies out of their life savings.
Getting to the Point
What really bugs the hell out of me is stuff sent to me by real people I really know that they got from people I don’t know — a friend got some dumb e-mail and they just have to pass it along without so much as adding a comment. Some of the people I’m in contact with refer to such e-mails as “spam”, but real spam is commercial ads and what I’m talking about might be described as “viral”. In terms of the internet, “viral” usually has the connotation of “popular”… people actually find it amusing, entertaining, or interesting and choose to view it, so maybe that’s not the best way to describe it.
Perhaps a better term for the second-hand e-mails I get would be “bacterial”. Out of the scores of people I have ever e-mailed, there are only three, possibly four, people who still send me bacterial e-mails with any regularity but the bacterial messages from them eat up the majority of my e-mail bandwidth and rivals the true commercial spam I get in sheer number. Let’s take a look at the various strains of bacterial e-mail, the people who perpetuate it, and what you can do about it.
The Major Players
These are the anonymous cretins who actually compose bacterial e-mails. They toil to craft a message that will be accepted and rebroadcast in spite of any inaccuracies or blatant lies contained therein. My best guess is that they are thirty-something deadbeats who sit around in the basements of their retired parents’ homes and, if they have any friends at all, their friends are marginal quasi-humans who might even look upon their e-mailing friend as some kind of hero. Aside from that small circle of friends whose combined IQ totals a number close to the Fahrenheit temperature of a balmy spring day, they live lives of isolation and even the clerks at the welfare office urge them to file all their documents online.
Their ultimate dream is to have one of their creations become a new urban legend, circle the globe, and arrive at their own inbox sent by someone who didn’t know that they were the one who originally got the thing going.
It is harder to pin down an actual profile for The Broadcaster. In this age of people being addicted to social networking, incessant text messaging, and portable communications via smart phones, bacterial messages are understandable. A lot of young people love to send and receive a seemingly endless stream of photos of bunnies snuggling with kittens or shots of Justin Bieber straining to look butch.
Other Broadcasters are older and lead more “established” lifestyles. They come home from work, open up their e-mail software, and see if anyone remembers them. Those poor individuals want to ensure they will not be forgotten and send everyone who hasn’t already blocked their e-mail address several messages to remind people they are still kicking. The Broadcaster can be a professional in a field where skepticism is essential, but he’ll forward any message that contains the words “pass this along to everyone in your list of contacts”. This is the more mature Broadcaster’s way of letting everyone know that he’s thinking of them, but he doesn’t have to communicate that his life is so routine that simply getting an e-mail from someone seems like they’ve been named Homecoming King or Queen. They have to share this honour with you because, secretly, they envy the creativity and wisdom of Authors but blindly forwarding bacteriograms is the best they can do.
The Nature of the Beast
There are three main groups of bacterial e-mails, classified according to whether their content is essentially media (images, videos, or recorded sounds, voice, or music), if a message is largely text and “informative”, or if its purpose is to get you to do something. Most bacterial messages combine a classic tactic from one of the three classifications and apply them to another category of message by trying to pull your heart-strings by using words or by supplying photos as proof of some piece of misinformation or to get you to do something, like offering an oblation to The Magic Internet Wish Genie.
The vast majority of bacterial e-mails contain signature elements to tip you off to their uselessness. They are usually drafted in a huge bolded typeface (and sometimes contains several different fonts), offer “down home” wisdom or advice, and beckon you to “send this along to everyone you care about”. Bacterial e-mails often contain factual passages in an attempt to persuade you to let your skeptical guard down and to lead you into believing that you should swallow the message whole.
There is often a fairly obvious flaw fatal to their bid to earn your trust. Sometimes the source is vaguely identified as “a Booger County Sheriff”, or “my cousin’s neighbour’s postal carrier’s cat’s veterinary enema technician”, or someone similarly beyond reproach. Many a bacteriogram mentions some specific identifying information concerning someone involved, the location where the kid went missing, or the name of the university that discovered that you can weld using ice cubes and an iPod, but for some strange reason the name of the authority is in a different font right there in the middle of a sentence, like the information was edited somewhere during its hopscotch through hundreds of in-boxes. Often the bacteriogram makes a scientific or otherwise factual claim based on junk science, faulty logic, or pure lies.
Here are some of the most popular bacterial e-mails…
The Puppy Gram
Everybody gets these… they are e-mails containing pictures of cute puppies, kittens, babies, or other poop-producing organisms which are meant to elicit an audible “Aww” from the recipient.
Puppies and kittens are cute but I cannot have a cat because Mrs. HoaiPhai is very allergic to the little critters. It is depressing seeing these pictures because I cannot even entertain the fantasy of owning a feline. Puppy pictures are equally disturbing to me because every once in a while Mrs. HoaiPhai talks about getting a dog and, frankly, I don’t like them quite enough to take one on tours of the neighbourhood a couple of times a day while wearing a latex glove and picking up their doots. Same thing goes for all the other cute animal pictures… if I really want to see pictures of fawns frolicking in a meadow, I can google with the best of them and can find these images on my own.
Lives of the Rich and Famous
Thanks for sending me pictures of how the Grand Exalted Poobah of Arabia lives in a mansion larger than the college I attended but I’m not interested. I love cars but unless I take the picture, I don’t generally get excited about seeing photos of them. If you ever get a 400+ horsepower 12-cylinder road vehicle, swing by my place and take me for a ride. Or buy me DVDs of Top Gear‘s second series (the one that started in 2002, not the older one… any season) as a gift. As I said before, I love getting surprises in the mail!
Thanks for the pictures and videos showing how quickly Japanese villages were submerged under tsunami floodwaters but do you realize that when I watch the videos I cannot help thinking that real people are actually drowning somewhere within frame, even if they are not visible? Please understand that I have nothing against death by drowning but I feel it should be reserved for those who author and forward bacteriograms. Same thing goes for other disasters and especially for graphic recordings of Man’s inhumanity to Man. It’s not that I don’t have a morbid curiosity about death and gore, but I’m in my 50s and have seen a lot of sad things over the years and I just don’t have the appetite for this that I once did.
P’wned and Other Pranks
OK, you got me! I love these videos, but I don’t need you spoon-feeding them to me. I own every Jackass video (except, apparently, the one with the “Human Barbecue” segment) and if that doesn’t quench my thirst for seeing people getting bruised and then laughing about it, I’ll put dog poo on your car’s door handle, film you entering your car, and then e-mail it to everyone you transmit bacterial e-mails to and see how long you keep smiling. I might even make you a star on YouTube! Wouldn’t that be nice?
You know these things. They are messages that ask fifty or so personal questions and tell you send your answers off to everyone on the planet so that your friends can get to know you better.
I currently have friends who still talk with me after having known me for more than forty-five years and not once has any one of them ever asked me “When was the last time you cried?”.
If you really want to get to know me better, invite yourself over to my place and bring a load of good Chinese take-out and a couple of bottles of booze for dessert — by 1:00 a.m. you’ll probably know more about my innermost feelings than you bargained for. Don’t forget the Kung Pao Chicken!
Jokes and Famous Quotes
When I first got internet service in the ’90s, jokes and quotes were the first bacterial e-mails and I loved them… for about six months. After a while I’d get the same bunch of jokes from the same pioneer of Broadcasting and it began to get old really fast. In those days when public access to the internet and e-mail was in its infancy and a screamer modem was 5400 bits/second, a long text-only e-mail, or several short ones, would take so much time to download that I could stuff a turkey before the messages fully arrived.
I love a good joke but I don’t want them sent to me daily. Besides, a lot of the quotes’ attributions are incorrect! Instead try to remember a couple of the good ones and tell them to me the next time you see me.
Aww, aren’t these treasures of sentimentality and encouragement a joy to receive? The anthem of these types of messages seems to be generally accepted as The Inspirational and Regurgitive Twainism,
“Dance like nobody’s watching. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Sing like nobody’s listening. Live like it’s heaven on Earth.”
Originally, I tried to find the original author of these epithets because I wanted to send him the computer virus that was in the attachment of the e-mail that bore these syrupy words of wisdom, but found out that Mark Twain supposedly wrote those words and I couldn’t find an e-mail address for him. He was a great writer, in spite of the fact that he never wrote about food fights, car chases, or naked ladies, but I cannot bring myself to look up the original work that contained clues to these now immortal words’ original context.
Broadcasting “uplifting” messages such as these to all your friends implies that all your friends need a little cheering up… have you considered what all your friends have in common that’s bringing them down so much? It’s you and your frigging broadcasts, so just cut it out.
Touching Glimpses at History
These are very closely tied to the Sentimental Sayings type of message in that they are meant to inform us and to uplift our spirits by way of some vital moral lesson we can learn from others who have been here before us.
I got one that was a “beaut”, and not only related a “historical event” that we all can learn from, but also included The Inspirational and Regurgitive Twainism (see Sentimental Sayings above) and demanded an offering to The Magic Internet Wish Genie (see below). The historical component went something like this…
In the 19th Century, a rich English family was travelling through Scotland. Their young son ended up in a pond and almost drowned. He was saved by a poor Scottish boy and as a reward the rich kid’s father offered to pay for a first-rate education for the lad. Both boys grew up and became great men — the English kid was Winston Churchill and the poor kid was Alexander Fleming, who was later able to invent penicillin because of the education paid for by Churchill’s father. Decades later, Winston Churchill got sick in Africa and Alexander Fleming was there to cure his pneumonia with the penicillin he was able to invent because of the education paid for by Churchill’s father, saving Churchill’s life a second time.
Pretty touching stuff, but there were tell-tale signs that the whole thing was BS, like it was sent by my number-one source for bacteriograms, and of everything he has ever forwarded to me, not one of his rebroadcasts has been essentially true. The trouble with this particular story is (Surprise!) that it is not true. There is no record of Alexander Fleming (or Ian Fleming, Sir Sandford Fleming, Peggy Fleming, or any other Fleming) having saved Winston Churchill as a child or as an adult. The doctor who saved Churchill’s life in Africa was one of his personal physicians, Lord Moran and Dr. Bedford, and he was treated with sulfadiazine not penicillin.
Look, if you are going to pass information along, at least look up to see whether it is factual before “educating” others. Anything less makes you look like a major idiot when the facts are uncovered. And do you want your friends to one day quote a misconception they “learned” from one of your bacterial e-mails to impress someone who has some expertise in the subject?
The Planet’s Demise and Left-wing Rants
There’s nothing like getting a message telling me that Mother Earth has given up trying to fight a losing battle against Man and his dirty emissions. I don’t want to know about penguins covered in oil unless you have something concrete that I can do that will make a difference (or if the oil in question is made from olives with oregano and lemon juice somehow involved). I don’t want to hear this week about where I can send money to solve major social problems and then next week get another e-mail from you telling me that charities are only getting 5% of my donation to the people in need (which turns out to be false when you look it up on a reliable source). Unless someone has told you that they are interested in a particular movement, don’t send them appeals to support it.
I’m completely fed up of hearing anti-multinational corporation propaganda couched as environmental and/or social alerts. Take a look at your own life and if you work in some big business industry or patronize such companies, broadcasting such rants only makes you look like a hypocrite. Cut it out.
Thinly-veiled Xenophobia and Right-wing Rants
Oh, how I love these. These messages paint an apocalyptic picture of a future North America having a non-white, non-Christian majority and complain about how immigrants are being given $8,000 per month tax free, free title to a house with a swimming pool, and how the government is picking up the tab for having their burqas blocked and dry cleaned. Written by the descendents of people who thought that early 20th century Irish, Jewish, Italian, and Greek (I’ve heard stories from family members so I can especially identify with this group) immigrants were going to have so many children that everybody would be cooking lamb at Christmas (or that Christmas would be banned outright) in just a few years, the same thing is going on now with immigration from Asia and the Middle East. You’ll never read it stated quite so plainly but racism is what these messages boil down to.
Get over it… we are a continent of immigrants and now it’s their turn to arrive, and we can either welcome them or mutter under our breath whenever we smell their strange food cooking. Don’t worry, their talent for having eight children tends to evaporate in the first generation or two that is born here so they won’t be taking over more than their allotted slice of the demographic pie chart anytime soon.
If you think that there is some real problem, like that immigrants are getting too much financial support from our tax money, refugees should be held until their backgrounds are checked and have had a hearing, or that you don’t think that kids in school should be given access to special areas to pray or that you have heard that in some place Sharia law is taking precedence over North American secular law, great. Send off a letter to politicians or start a petition (e-mail and website-based ones are not taken seriously by the people you are trying to sway, so don’t waste my time sending me links to these) but do your research first and find out if what you’ve heard is really true.
Yes, I have a Y chromosome and am hard-wired to like looking at naked ladies, either live and up close or via any imaging technology ever devised. I noticed you only sent this set of explicit pictures to a select group of your male friends (and not to your girlfriend) and I thank you for including me in your inner circle with whom you are sharing these photos. The video clips of aberrant sexual acts provide me with a glimpse into what makes you tick.
You were at my wedding… do you think my wife appreciates opening up Outlook Express and finding those images any more than your girlfriend will when I send it along to her with your e-address plainly visible as the person who thought it was a good idea to send to others? I have heard a rumour that there is a lot of free porn on the internet and if I feel the need for it I’m pretty sure I can find it for myself.
Alerts & Warnings
These are supremely annoying and arguably the most potentially dangerous of the bacteriograms, except for the ones involving health. They “inform” you of some possible danger to you (in the case of warnings) or to others (in the case of alerts).
The classic warning tries to dissuade you from flashing your high beams at approaching cars that have their high beams on, stating that gangs drive around with their brights on just waiting for someone to flash them. According to this bacterial e-mail, if you do flash your brights, the gang members will attack you as part of some initiation ceremony. A little research the last time I got this yielded no concrete proof that this has ever happened although a lot of dummies repeat this warning as fact not only in bacteriograms but also on web pages and blogs. My theory is that this chestnut of misinformation was authored by some bozo who drives around forgetting to dim his high beams and resents other motorists’ protestations of being blinded. This gem has been circulating since before e-mail came into the hands of us regular folk when it was broadcast via fax, by the way.
Another involves thieves and/or rapists that approach you in shopping mall parking lots and offer cut-rate perfumes. When you take a whiff of their wares you fall unconscious immediately, allowing the bad guys to steal your possessions and your virtue (if you have any left after the crazy ’90s). Aside from my careful research never turning up any authoritative anecdotal evidence for this ever happening, scientifically it seems highly improbable that thieves and rapists have discovered an agent that causes rapid unconsciousness when inhaled in low concentrations, permits a full recovery of the victim within a few minutes, and is safe enough to handle without protective clothing by idiots who have to resort to robbing random people in Wal-Mart parking lots.
Inhaling the vapours of chloroform or ether will cause unconsciousness… in 1940-era movies, but you’d have to inhale a lot of the stuff in high concentrations to cause you to pass out in the real world — taking a couple of whiffs just wouldn’t do it. And both these chemicals stink! Nobody would stand there huffing Chanel No. 5 laced with chloroform unless it was the chloroform they were after in the first place.
Bacterial alerts play on a person’s desire to be a humanitarian and becon you to get involved in some emergency. Some inform you of missing children.
I remember getting one that defied the usual template of not giving specifics. After a minute or two of googling, I found that the young girl in the e-mail had indeed been reported missing and that the information given was accurate, but she had been found a day or so after having been “kidnapped” (her father thought that it was his weekend for an extended court-mandated visitation and no charges were laid) eight years before I received the e-mail !
Another such electronic Amber Alert showed a boy and gave all the particulars but the message had been floating around cyberspace for years and there was no evidence that a boy by that name had ever been kidnapped in North America.
In another e-mail, the girl in question was correctly identified, all the contact information for her parents was correct, but the girl had never been kidnapped — the message was authored by her classmates as a form of cyber-bullying and caused the girl and her family years of grief.
Again, check the facts before you rebroadcast a bacteriogram! You wouldn’t want to be party to the victimization of someone, would you?
Science & Health
Warning! Whatever you do, never waver from a treatment plan given to you by an actual medical doctor whose education involved the splattering of cadaver fluids all over his or her white lab coat in order to get that spiffy diploma on his or her wall because of an e-mail some dummy Broadcaster sent you.
We live in a technological society and it amazes me that people have such a limited knowledge of how nature works that they will pass along stuff that is obviously misinformation. Sadly, it seems like some people forget everything they’ve ever learned about the physical world as a response to the “you have mail” sound programmed into their computers.
The crap contained within the medical- or science-themed bacteriogram ranges from absurd to dangerous. One e-mail I got about The Mpemba Effect really brings the point home of the absurdity of some messages.
The Mpemba Effect was named for Erasto Mpemba, a Tanzanian secondary school student. Basically, in 1963 he and other students were making ice cream and found that a batch that was put into the freezer at a warm temperature froze faster than another batch that went in colder. In spite of the fact that the different batches were made from different recipes and the quantities of the ice cream batches or possible temperature inconsistencies within the freezer were not subjected to rigorously precise measurements, a lot of debate has gone on in the real world over what caused the warmer mix to freeze faster. Serious researchers have since spent a lot of lab time looking into this phenomenon.
But what the bacterial e-mail I got concluded from all this was that if you want to make ice cubes quickly, use hot water! This was a quantum leap, logically speaking, from what we’ve learned from the whole Mpemba discussion, and you will be happy to know that I will not go into that now. All you have to do to clarify this issue in your own mind is to imagine that the warmer tray of ice cubes has to arrive at the same temperature as the cooler ones at some point as they allegedly freeze at a quicker pace. After that, any imaginary advantage to being the warmer sample has left the water, so from that point both samples will freeze at the same rate. So for two samples of identical composition and mass, it is impossible for the warmer one to freeze faster than the cooler one. Case closed.
The image above was sent to me in a bacteriogram and is supposedly a photo taken at the North Pole of the Sun and Moon and attributed the greatly increased apparent size of the Moon to perspective when viewed from this exotic location. This is sheer BS — the apparent size of the Moon compared to that of the Sun is quite similar, only varies by around 10% when seen from a point on the surface of the Earth, and the difference between the distance from the Moon to the North Pole compared to the distance to another point on Earth would not be that much greater than the difference in distances between a point on the equator to a full Moon measured first at dusk and then six hours later. Give yourself a gold star if you got all that.
Certainly if this “photo” were genuine, we would have seen many, many photos such as this one taken from tropical locations. Further, at the time I got this bacteriogram I found the creator of the image and it had been digitally constructed from several real and/or synthesized images. Mystery solved.
One baloney-gram involving numbers is the “Money Bags Year” bacteriogram, in which it is claimed that this year is especially lucky because a certain month contains three Tuesdays (or whatever) and that this only happens every 400 years or so. Next time you get one of these, search for whatever anomolous feature this year is supposed to have on a perpetual calendar site, and you’ll see that the calendar repeats itself with surprising frequency.
Please stop sending me e-mails telling me about the weird wonders of nature and science. If you want to play Mr. Experiment and set up a demonstration (on your property so my insurance doesn’t go up), I’m game.
Ahh, the “tracked” bacteriogram… you’ve gotten these, haven’t you? These are the ones that say that if you forward the message to a certain number of people Bill Gates (or Coca-Cola or Apple Computers or some other entity with a lot of money) will send you a large cheque or some other material reward.
A variation claims that if you send the message on to a bunch of people, a picture of Martina Navratilova, Kate Smith, or some other famous naked female personage will magically appear on your computer screen. Without putting too fine a point on it, tracking an e-mail is technically improbable and would be illegal in the western world even if possible.
I figure the only possible way it could be done (and I am not an I.T. expert, by the way) would be for whoever wants to track the message to enter into an agreement with ISPs everywhere to read all their subscribers’ outgoing messages and report numbers back to the sponsor of the giveaway. Certainly anyone who wants to give away money would like to exercise a little control over who gets it and would set up a website to accept applications or would offer coupons for huge discounts to their own customers.
The magical picture appearing just doesn’t make any technical sense, either. E-mail clients, to my knowledge, do not count how many times specific messages are forwarded or send permission to other applications to open images.
The Magic Internet Wish Genie
The Magic Internet Wish Genie bacteriogram is technically a “tracking” variety of bacterial e-mail but the promised payoff is so stupid and the being charged with the task of tracking so unbelievable, this type of message deserves a section all to itself. The difference between the The Magic Internet Wish Genie and the “normal” tracking messages is that in the case of The Magic Internet Wish Genie ones, it is some kind of metaphysical entity that tracks your compliance, not a technological process or a carbon-based life-form.
What happens with this message is that there is a set-up involving one or more of the previously mentioned varieties of bacteriograms and offers you varying levels of good luck depending on how quickly you forward it to various numbers of recipients. Sometimes your reward for forwarding the message to twenty people is that your specific wish is granted with a rapidity directly proportional to how fast you spam your friends. Sometimes The Magic Internet Wish Genie will grant your wish with absolute certainty if you meet some requirement, like forwarding the message to 30 people within 7 minutes.
Who is keeping The Magic Internet Wish Genie messages going? I figure atheists’ beliefs would be a pretty firmly grounded in determinism, so why would they think that some internet-based spook could dish out luck or favours… I thought atheism precluded the metaphysical. And theists should be ashamed of themselves… even God doesn’t guarantee that he will answer your prayers by granting any wish asked so how could a lower-level angel (giving The Magic Internet Wish Genie the benefit of the doubt) come through with granting every wish and on schedule? Seems like devil worship to me!
What to Do to Stop Getting Bacteriograms
It is virtually impossible to trace a bacteriogram back to its original Author so don’t even try. If you happen to stumble upon conclusive evidence that someone has produced more than one bacteriogram, send their contact info along to me and then unsubscribe to my blog, delete any and all communications you’ve ever had with me, delete my e-mail address from all address books, and take a vacation (preferably one of those group tour packages where you don’t have a moment’s privacy) on a continent other than the one on which The Author lives. When you get back home, avoid all temptation to google the Author’s name. I’ll take care of things.
Aside from stumbling upon an Author and sending him to an eternity in The Realm of the Magic Internet Wish Genie, the first thing you can do on your quest to be bacteriogram-free is to remember to never forward stuff to more than one person unless you’re sharing info with other members of your school project team, passing along details of where a family reunion will be held, or sending other pertinent information to targeted recipients. The ony exception to this rule is if you are responding to a broadcast in an effort to shame or humiliate the Broadcaster who sent it to you in the first place.
Once you’ve made the commitment to not be one yourself, go after the real Broadcasters. You could appeal directly and politely to your Broadcaster to stop sending you such messages but, in my personal experience, this will not work for any length of time. You’ll have to take tougher measures. The dictum “Fight fire with fire” is sage advice in the case of battling the Broadcaster.
Broadcasters seem to share a strange idiosyncrasy… while they have no qualms about forwarding e-mails to scores of people without stripping the addresses of previous recipients or addressing their messages by using the BCC function (i.e. Blind Carbon Copy, which masks the display of everyone else you’ve sent the message to), they don’t want you to contact anyone else to whom they have sent the message! Contacting the people who sent the message to your personal Broadcaster (along with others he/she sent the message to) is apparently an especially egregious taboo. So one way to get off their lists is to comment on the stuff they’ve sent you, forwarding the message to not only the others your Broadcaster sent the message to but to his Broadcaster and everyone else your Broadcaster’s Broadcaster (grand-Broadcaster?) sent it to!
This will offend your Broadcaster and grand-Broadcaster, who might inform you of your breach of etiquette by claiming that people have asked him to inform you that your e-mails are not welcome. Apologize profusely but do the same again the next time you get bacteriogrammed. Repeat as necessary.
You might want to mention to people contacting you concerning your faux pas that you yourself don’t appreciate having your e-mail address made available to each subsequent generation of recipients and suggest that their Broadcaster be instructed in the fine art of addressing using the BCC function, pointing out that making such a practice a habit will make it impossible for anyone to bother anyone else. Eventually, you’ll be removed from his broadcast list and since you’ve caused so much trouble for your grand-Broadcaster, he might even stop broadcasting to you Broadcaster!
When re-sending broadcasts, be sure that you add comments about the original message. What follows are some suggestions for ways to respond to the various classifications of bacterial e-mails. It is, of course, essential that you forward the original message so that in addition to your comments and added media, the recipients also get the original message in its glorious entirety. It goes without saying (although I’m saying it now) that these responses are just a starting point — get jiggy with it!
The Puppy Gram
- Go into a lengthy tirade about how animals are being exploited through the broadcast of such e-mails and create a logical staircase that eventually links such exploitation to heart disease, rising oil prices, unemployment, terrorism, rap music, and global warming.
- Send photos of your own pets. The photos don’t have to be cute — the more boring and less artistic the better! Don’t forget to include shots of your pet’s toys, dish, bed, and any accidents it has made on the carpet. Action shots of them having bowel movements or squirting on hydrants are a nice touch.
- As a last resort, send photos of road kill (yes, you can find such images using your favourite search engine) saying how cute the animal must have been before getting squashed. You might want to insert road kill images into the original message as a sort of “where are they now?” type of message.
Lives of the Rich and Famous
- Criticize the architectural styling of the Poobah’s palace saying, for example, that the design was inspired by the design of the servants’ restroom in the neighbouring country’s Sultan’s townhouse.
- List atrocities committed by the mansion’s owner that funded the purchase of the luxuries, noting that the dissemination of materials glorifying the ogre’s lavish lifestyle is tacit approval of the savagery used to acquire the wealth used to buy the items. Be graphic and make stuff up if you don’t want to research it.
- Broadcast images of your Broadcaster’s residence, car, boat, and whatever else you can think of, remarking how you used to think the Broadcaster’s stuff was pretty good but now that you’ve seen The Poobah’s stuff, your Broadcaster’s stuff seems lousy by comparison.
- Inform yourself of disaster relief organizations, make a donation, and shame your Broadcaster into making a sizable contribution, offering to collect their money and make sure it gets to the right people. If they respond that they’ve made a donation, send a follow-up broadcast claiming that you’ve volunteered your time for the organization and couldn’t find any record of their donation, chastising them for their dishonesty and lack of compassion.
- Attach graphic images of human suffering associated with the disaster and claim that you have not been able to sleep since you got the original broadcast. Question how your Broadcaster can be so hard-hearted that they can still sleep at night.
- Attach images of your Broadcaster’s property claiming that it resembles areas affected by the disaster.
P’wned and Other Pranks
- Send more images or clips of whatever type of pranks were contained in the original broadcast, upping the ante in terms of injury, violent reaction, file size, etc.
- Stage the same prank that your Broadcaster sent you with your Broadcaster as the victim and then broadcast the video to all your Broadcaster’s and grand-Broadcaster’s usual recipients as an attachment to the original bacteriogram. As I mentioned earlier, film your Broadcaster opening his car door after you have spackled the underside of the handle with dog doo.
- Same as the previous suggestion but instead of sending the video clip, send a link to where you posted the clip on YouTube, remembering to send daily updates of the number of viewer hits.
- If you are going to forward these messages, I suggest you follow my lead and question the motives for asking individual questions instead of giving actual responses, e.g. “Why are you asking about my favourite brand of beans? How is this going to create bonds between people… sounds like a thinly disguised marketing survey to me!”
- Advise people not to respond because you’ve heard that the government is tracking the messages and it’s Big Brother’s way of keeping tabs on the citizenry.
- Modify the original message so that people are instructed to fill in what they think the person who sent it to them would respond. When filling out your Broadcaster’s responses, include as many embarrassing personal references and anecdotes as possible.
Jokes and Famous Quotes
- Make up your own jokes that make no sense and pass them along. I remember one such joke from elementary school, told to people to see if they would cave to peer pressure and laugh along with the other kids who were all in on the prank. If the kid laughed, they were ridiculed for caving to peer pressure. If they didn’t, they were ridiculed for not having the intelligence or sense of humour to find the joke funny — I grew up with a great bunch of people. Here is that very joke… take it and run with it. “An elephant and a rhino were in the bathtub together. The elephant says ‘Pass the soap.’ The rhino responds, ‘Sorry, no soap… radio!’ “
- Create two special folders in your e-mail software and label one “Jokes” and the other “Quotes”. Every time you get a bunch of jokes or quotes from your Broadcaster, copy each individual joke or quote into a new outgoing message addressed to your Broadcaster, your grand-Broadcaster, and all their recipients. Save the individual messages to the appropriate folder. After you have amassed several hundred, send them out all at once. A good time to do this is on your Broadcaster’s birthday or while he’s away on vacation without access to his email account. Who knows? Maybe your avalanche of jokes will exceed your Broadcasters bandwidth limit, preventing him from getting bacteriograms from others to forward to you!
- Whenever I get a message based on The Inspirational and Regurgitive Twainism, I always respond with a few choice inspirational words of my own, like “Love like there’s no such thing as a restraining order” and “Fart like there is no midget standing behind you in a crowded elevator”.
- Make fun of the Broadcaster calling him a pansy or cite examples of things he’s done that were somewhat less than sensitive to other people’s feelings. Details of his divorce, the events leading up to the split-up, and tales of his breaking his rebound romances’ hearts are all fair game.
Touching Glimpses at History
- Fact check the bacteriogram and broadcast the list of errors.
- Draw parallels between the historical events in the bacteriogram and embarrassing moments from your Broadcaster’s personal history.
- Point out that while you appreciate the glimpse into history, you would prefer if your Broadcaster would think back to last year when he borrowed money from your spouse’s dementia-afflicted grandparent and never paid them back.
The Planet’s Demise and Left-wing Rants
- Point out that your Broadcaster drives a seven-seat V-8 hobby truck as a personal conveyance.
- Reflect on your Broadcaster’s childhood when he would trade lunches with anyone who brought tuna sandwiches to school and he would shout “Flipper! Flipper!” during the swap.
- Respond by broadcasting images of you throwing an air conditioner onto a pressure-treated-wood bonfire, noting that when the freon reservoir ruptured the flames took on a deep green hue. If you are an ace photo or video editor, make it look like it was your Broadcaster who did it.
Thinly-veiled Xenophobia and Right-wing Rants
- Be overly supportive of efforts to repeal gun control legislation and speak glowingly of your Broadcaster’s extensive collection of fully-functional, fully-automatic weapons that are cunningly concealed within the walls of his newly remodelled home. Ask if he’ll be going ahead with his plan to attend the Canada Day Citizenship Ceremonies or Caribe-fest.
- Congratulate your Broadcaster on his insightful message and parenthetically remind him that it’s his turn to launder the sheets before the next white supermacy meeting.
- Ask what law provides for luxuries to be given to refugees so that you can apply, start your own stable of welfare kids, and help tip the demographics back in favour of White Christians (or whatever group you choose as the preferred majority).
- Cite statistics, real or otherwise, that claim benefit-sucking refugees actually pay more taxes and contribute more to society than middle class people who do nothing but complain.
- Remind your Broadcaster et al that as bad as immigrants are, at least they don’t broadcast bacteriograms.
- Remind your Broadcaster that he insisted on having an underage transvestite as the “special performer” at his bachelor party.
- Claim that those that can no longer perform the acts dipicted in the e-mail try to compensate for it by broadcasting.
- Inquire if any of the people appearing in the videos were people your Broadcaster worked with when he was in the trade.
- Forward the porn to your Broadcaster’s significant other, making sure your Broadcaster’s e-mail address is plainly visible as your source, and comment on how the girl in the video looks and “performs” a lot like the teenage hitchhiker your Broadcaster picked up during one of your recent “guys only” fishing trips together.
Alerts & Warnings
- As was the case with responding to Touching Glimpses at History bacterial e-mails, fact check the bacteriogram and broadcast the list of errors… information is power.
- Suggest that your Broadcaster fell for the scam detailed in his warning.
- Suggest that your Broadcaster orchestrated the scam detailed in his warning and his broadcast is just an act of bragging.
- Implicate your Broadcaster in other activities that warrant an e-mail alert.
Science & Health
- Again, fact check the bacteriogram and broadcast the list of errors.
- Chances are your Broadcaster didn’t major in the sciences if you are getting this type of bacteriograms…. comment on the quality of their sciences instruction in their arts programme. or,
- If your Broadcaster does have a background in the sciences, scold them for propagating misinformation and ask if there is a vacancy at where they work for the job as their supervisor.
- Make up some scientific mumbo-jumbo… you can aim your tone to being either convincing or mocking. Look up jargon from alchemy, astrology, dowsing, feng shui, or other fringe pseudosciences and use liberally in your arguments to either support or refute the bacterial e-mail’s claims.
- Threaten to report them to the authorities for disseminating faulty medical advice without a licence.
- Provide your Broadcaster with the reasons why “tracking” just cannot work.
- Claim that the tracked e-mail thing worked like a charm and forward him a nudie picture of Kate Smith (or whatever was promised) as proof. Ask him if he got a different shot and, if so, request a copy of it for your collection.
- Provide your Broadcaster with the contact information for one of those ambulance-chasing lawyers that put ads on TV and explain that if the bacteriogram made good on its promises to reveal a nudie picture (or whatever), he can probably win a lawsuit against the his broadcaster for having contributed to the sponsor invading his privacy.
- Provide your Broadcaster with the contact information for one of those ambulance-chasing lawyers that put ads on TV and explain that if the bacteriogram did not came through with its promises to reveal a nudie picture (or whatever), he can probably win a lawsuit against the his broadcaster for breach of contract.
- Provide your Broadcaster with the contact information for a psychiatrist and/or mental hospital in his area.
The Magic Internet Wish Genie
- Read the instructions in the message, counting the number of people your Broadcaster forwarded the message to and estimating the amount of time it took him to do it (if the message has an amount-of-luck or luck-onset-delay clause) and ask if his wish came true according to the level of luck promised by The Magic Internet Wish Genie’s bacteriogram. Keep asking him at least once a week for several months just to keep on top of things.
- Pull out all stops and construct a website or blog where you take on the persona of The Magic Internet Wish Genie (as opposed, say, to presenting yourself as a raccoon) and send him a link. Post a picture of your Broadcaster on the site with a made-up testimonial.
- If your Broadcaster is an atheist, ask him if the powers of a Magic Internet Wish Genie are in line with his belief in determinism.
- If your Broadcaster is a theist, tell him he should be ashamed of himself and remind him that even God doesn’t guarantee that he will answer your prayers by granting any wish asked so how could even a lower-level angel come through with granting every wish and on schedule. Accuse him of devil worship, idolatry, or some other biblical-sounding transgression.
- Keep your Broadcaster posted on developments that prove The Magic Internet Wish Genie has showered luck upon you — someone so interested your happiness that they provide you the means to kiss up to The Magic Internet Wish Genie certainly deserves to know that they played a part in your good fortune. May I suggest daily updates over the period of several weeks? Waking up on time, getting free crackers with your cafeteria soup, not getting arrested for jaywalking, finding a missing sock, etc. all count as signs of good luck in my book!
Smite The Magic Internet Wish Genie!
So, boys and girls, now that we are all acquainted with the evils of such messages, it’s time to make a personal commitment to be part of the solution. Let’s all take the Bacteriogram Buster’s Oath.
I, [your name], do solemnly swear to endeavour to eradicate bacteriograms from the face of the Earth by…
- Never forwarding any e-mail message unannotated.
- Never forwarding a given bacteriograms to anyone other than my Broadcaster, my grand-Broadcaster, their ascendant Broadcasters, and those to whom any of the aforementioned Broadcasters have already send the bacteriogram in question.
- Always countering bacterial misinformation with the truth and forwarding it only to those I have reason to believe have already received the message.
- Taking every opportunity to publicly shame Broadcasters and/or Authors using facts, logic, sarcasm, or any other device available to me.
If we all work together, hopefully we will see a day in our lifetimes when we will have to visit a museum to see a bacteriogram.
Pass this post on to all your friends! (Gotcha… just testing!)