Is It Ever OK to Forward a Chain Letter?

January 27, 2011 | By | Comments (2)

A conservative estimate of the number of email chain letters I have deleted over the years is 4 zillion. I hate chain letters. I would never forward one. Ever. Until…

Mailbox vignette Not long ago, a friend—one of my oldest and most sensible friends, by the way, who also happens to be an excellent cook—sent me an email, subject line “Recipe Exchange.” I read on. “I'm inviting you to be a part of a recipe exchange.” she wrote. “Please send a recipe to the person whose name is in position 1 ….”

And I had a weird reaction. I thought, what the hell? So what if it’s a chain letter? It was, after all, a chain letter vouched for by someone I trust absolutely. I would walk through fire for this friend. I would get on a plane and fly to her if she called and said she needed help. I would keep her dog for the weekend (if she had a dog) (and it was a smallish dog). Who would it hurt if I forwarded her chain letter? And I might even get some good recipes in return.

I sent the chain letter to 20 friends and family members, including my mother.

Big mistake!

“I hate you!” one of my other most sensible friends called the next day to inform me.

“Wait, I thought you loved me,” I said.

“Not after you sent me this recipe thing,” she said, adding that she now felt compelled for the first time in her life to forward a chain letter because she got it from one of her trusted friends.

Before I even got off the phone with her, more negative feedback started arriving in my Inbox. In fact, my friends spent way more time writing heartfelt comments about why they wouldn’t forward a chain letter than they would have spent typing up a recipe. A sampling:

“I hate these things and can’t do it.”

“By rule I never do chain mail – I just don’t like them for some reason.  Can you resend to someone else??“

“Sorry, I'm never going to get to this — I think the stumbling block is 20 people.  I can't ask 20 people to do anything.”

With the exception of my mother, who loyally forwarded the letter to 20 more people, no one I sent it to was happy to get the chain letter. I felt terrible.

And then…a few days later yet another of my most sensible friends sent me an email with the subject line “could be fun….” I read on: “You have been invited to be part of a recipe exchange. I hope you will participate.”

Guess what I replied?

Have you ever forwarded a chain letter? Would you, under any circumstances? Was I wrong to do it?

(image courtesy of Real Simple)

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