We’ve all gotten them. We dread receiving them. We dread sending them out, but we are compelled to. They are usually worded something like this:
“This letter is being sent to you to bring you good luck. This letter was blessed by a Buddhist monk on his death bed and he imbued the letter with the last of his life-force. This letter has brought good luck and countless blessings to people the world over. This letter was started before the beginning of time. Within 72 hours of receiving this letter you must forward it to 20 of your closest friends or the chain of luck with is broken. The last person who broke the chain had all their limbs fall off in excruciatingly painful fashion. I, myself, forwarded it to all my friends and within days I won a billion dollars. None of my friends will talk to me anymore, but now I can buy new friends.”
I recently received such a letter in my work e-mail. It’s very nice to be friendly with co-workers, but sometimes all that gets you is added to their e-mail list so you can receive chain letters and adorable pictures of dogs sitting on the toilet. I’m convinced that the Black Plague that wiped out half the population of Europe around the year 1000 occurred because Julius Caesar forgot to forward a chain letter. Why do you think Brutus stabbed him? The great economic depression that occurred in the United States in the 1930’s was caused by millions of workers who stopped what they were doing to forward an e-mail chain letter they had received. The chain letter I received today implied that it had started in 1953! I scrolled all the way back to the beginning. The first name on the list was Elvis. I guess things worked out OK for him. It must be real then. When I’m elected President, or Sexiest Man Alive, whichever comes first, I’m going to pass a law against chain letters. But that won’t help me today.
So here I sit, with a chain letter in my inbox. Do I ignore it as silly superstition? The clock is ticking. I have to make up my mind. Do I boldly break the chain, or do I give into my anxiety that just maybe there is something real and magical to this? If I break the chain am I willing to risk catastrophic tragedy? The clock is ticking…Are there any volunteers to help me keep the chain intact?