Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

October 7, 2013

Reflections on Chain Letters

Mineral Wells Index

— You remember chain letters, don’t you. At least those of you who are my age and a little younger do.  

You received a letter in the mail. The letter had a message of some sort that asked the recipient to make copies of the letter and send it on to x-number of people. Back in the day this was all done in long-hand, too!

The letter usually gave a time limit and the exact number of people they were to be sent to. They included stories that were supposed to manipulate the recipient into sending them on. The letter often told the recipient that they would be blessed or that they would be rich if they sent the letter on, but that they would be cursed or hurt in some way if it was not sent.  

Often the letter contained the address of the person who sent the letter, and it told the recipient to not only send the letter on but to respond to the sender by replying with x-amount of money, perhaps a dime, perhaps a dollar, perhaps more. These letters went through the United States Postal Service and often swamped the Post Office, as they did in 1935 with the infamous “Prosperity Club” and “Send-a-Dime” letters. Now, in the United States, chain letters that request money or other items of value are illegal.

However, there are now new sorts of chain letters out there, to go along with our technology age. And these letters are equally manipulative and often very unkind... to say the least.

One of these types of chain letters comes in the form of an email. I just received one the other day. They often begin by telling the recipient that the sender thought long and hard about who they knew who would send the letter on and who would break the chain.

The one I received apologized that I would have to send eight letters on, but that the email was meant for only the strongest of women. It said I would receive blessings if I passed it on within five minutes. (I couldn’t decide whether that was five minutes from when my computer got it or five minutes from when I saw it.)

It went on to tell me I would be blessed if I sent eight letters on and one back to the sender and that I “would see” why when I sent it – magic, I suppose! It implied that I might be cursed if I did not send it on.

What did I do? I put it in the trash, of course.

The other sort of chain letter I see frequently is on Facebook. A shared message is sent out demanding that if the recipient believes in God the message must be shared or, I suppose, God won’t love the recipient any more.  

Or there is a message about our military troops. The message implies that if I don’t respond I am not a true American.

Or there is a message about illness or children, and if I don’t respond I must hate children and love disease.

I mean, how sick does a person have to be to threaten another person with banishment from God, friends, or family if they don’t forward an electronic chain letter!

So, all this is to say, please don’t send those sorts of messages, whether email, Facebook, or United States Postal Service, threatening or belittling those people you call friend. It just isn’t very nice!