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To Fwd: or Not to Fwd:


A desert photo to start things off since this could get a little long.

Why and Why Not?
*I’m sure this has been said many times before… Why-oh-why do people continue to e-mail “fwd: Fw: Fw: A Good Read” to everyone in their address book when most of the time whatever is being forwarded is mis-attributed, never happened, or is just plain false? With Google or Snopes likely to be at their fingertips, why don’t they take a few minutes to verify before sending?

As soon as I’m asked to Fw: anything, whether if it’s from my best friend, or even my Mother, I still run a quick background check against it. Nothing major, just a minute or two of searching to ease my mind from the fear of spreading non-truth. I guess it’s because of my cynicism and a desire to know the truth (or a close approximation) that I refuse to blindly forward any e-mail. It’s not that I mind receiving a good heart-warming story or a passion-driven campaign to help others. I do. If they’re true.

There’s also the touchy matter of informing the sender that the message they forwarded is wrong/impossible/not-true without insulting them or sounding condescending. This is so tricky in fact, that I find myself rarely doing it even though I know it just means the sender is likely to continue passing un-verified messages in the future.

Based on my experience I’d guess that most people are not as concerned with correct attribution, or the verification of virus warnings, or basically trying to find out the truth about forwarded messages. I don’t know if they are more trusting than I am, or if they lack the knowledge to do the verification, or if they simply don’t care if something is true or not. More often than not, I believe it to be the later. “Why not,” they might say, “it was a good story and put a smile on my face. Who cares if George Carlin didn’t really write it”. And they may be right about that.

To be perfectly honest I probably enjoy the attempt to debunk a fowarded message almost as much as reading the message itself. So keep sending them to me. I don’t mind. Just know that I probably won’t pass your message on.

Thanks for letting me ramble.

Originally published on Monday October 6, 2003 at 9:28 am

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