Feb 1, 2006

Chain letters revisited

So there's this thing among bloggers called tagging. And that's how memes get around. Kind of like germs. If I come across a meme I like, I'll do it, for my own sake, because it interests me. But the act of tagging that some bloggers do, is way too much like chain letters. And as I just told a blogging friend who tagged me, I hate chain letters. Yeah, she accidentally pushed a button, poor sweety.

Now, I did write a little bit about memes and chain letters in 2004. Here's more about why I have an aversion to the things:

When I was a kid, chain letters were a source of desperation for the kid who was sort of left out. We girls would have chain letters like passing on postcards to each other or something. Or some "good luck" letter pleading you to please, please, do not break the chain as it's been unbroken since a little girl wrote it during World War I in India. So guilted into not breaking the chain, and also happy that some girl had actually included me in the chain, I'd then have to wrack my own brain for four or five other names to forward the chain letter to. And I didn't know any. I simply didn't have enough friends, and we were only five girls in our class, and you can bet one of them had already used all of our names. (It was a small town and even smaller school.)

One day, I got a chain letter that claimed to have been circulating unbroken since 1952, when it first started in the US. Amazingly, I now had this precious original in my hand, in fluent Norwegian. I had just recently struggled to fulfill the instructions in a previous chain letter, botching it, and getting funny looks from the girls at school (but I didn't break the chain), and I looked at the new chain letter with a heavy heart.

So I broke the chain.

I never forwarded the letter to anyone. I threw it in the garbage and that's what I've done ever since with chain letters.

Chain letters have migrated into the world of e-mail and blogs. In the former, they are pretty much as they always were, with forwarding instructions, and a promise, then a warning about what will happen to you if you don't forward this, nowadays also with 17 levels of quote symbols. (I've even received an electronic version of the 1952 letter.) In blogs, they are often in the form of memes, and spread through tagging.

I won't play. I still don't know enough people so that I can tag someone who didn't tag me first.

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