The Vine

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Be Afraid!

I have already ranted a little bit about hoax emails of the hateful politically-motivated rightwing dittohead variety, but there is another kind that is more mysterious to me.
We get these things from our mothers, sisters, and coworkers. Like any other hoax, there is a message at the bottom that says "email this to everyone you know." This variety is ones that warn you about a new crime tactic, and if memory serves me, almost all of them that I have gotten involve women in cars. Snopes is just full of these. Even when the crime tactic is plausible, the truth is that it just has not ever happened. Women are being constantly warned about crimes that just have not happened.
Why doen't anybody ask, "What is the motivation behind these emails?" or "Who is responsible for generating them?" Our relatives just forward them, but somebody had to sit down and make this stuff up, and type it in, and set the hoax-virus into motion. Who? Why? Wouldn't that be a cool human-interest investigative journalism piece? Maybe those two journalistic genras don't overlap enough.
If I were to guess, I would have to hypothesize that the intended effect is to keep women in a low-level state of fear all the time. To guess about the underlying motivation would be to get into paranoid theories about the patriarchy wanting us to be afraid to travel at will, and make those kinds of mistakes that you do when you are afraid. Maybe it is my own low level of free-floating fear that makes me imagine such an oppressor!
Is it a lone gunman, i.e, some think-tank with funding and a directive to keep women in a state of minor hysteria, or is it a vast network of unrelated hoaxmakers who have all just happen to have hit upon the same successful M.O.?
In any case, what I do is: search Snopes, find out that it is a hoax, copy the URL that debunks the hoax, go back to the email, hit "reply to all" and paste in the URL, with a request to send this back to whoever sent it to you. Be nice! people get embarrassed when they find out they have a dictionary that had the word "gullible" removed. We don't want to humiliate Mom, we just want to chase down those fear viruses and stomp them before they replicate again.


At 1:30 PM, Blogger dragonfly jenny said...

Yeah, I hate those fear-based emails too. I've never used Snopes, don't even know how (but assume the site has detailed instructions); I just delete the mails. But maybe sometime I should REPLY-ALL to the hoax with a Snopes reference.


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