Saturday, January 12, 2013

Forwarded E-Mails

How many of you remember the olden days of chain letters?  You would get something in the mail with a closing tag-line of "Send this to five friends and you will have good luck.  Don't break the chain.  The last person who broke the chain was cursed with bad credit, broke out in boils, and died from leprosy."  Everyone hated them.  So why is it that people continue to pass on the same types of things in e-mail?  "Forward this to 100 people, especially the ones you love.  Include me if you love me."  Bleh.  What kind of passive aggressive person crying out for help started that e-mail?

But in the world of forwarded e-mails that is not really the bane of the pastor's inbox.  What I really dislike are forwarded lies.  The e-mails that talk about how our government is planning to build the death star and blow upMmars -- because there really are aliens living there and NASA has been covering it up for the past 350 years.  Or worse, the ones that slander people, like members of congress, the president or the queen of England; saying that he or she refused to salute the US flag. 

And then there are the inane videos with dogs riding unicycles, and skateboarding walrus.  You may find this hard to believe, but I don't have time to watch all of those.  In fact, in a recent discussion among pastors, all admitted that we delete them without watching them.

All of that got me to thinking, "Perhaps what we need are some etiquette rules for sending emails -- especially to our pastors."  What follows is my attempt:

Rule 1:  If it is a chain letter that begs to be sent on to others, don't send it to me.  

Rule 2:  If its primary purpose is to make someone look bad, whether that person is a school teacher, a politician or a rabbit trainer for the circus -- you have no business forwarding it.  As Christians it is our duty to love our neighbor, not to call them names like 5 year olds in the playground.  I don't care if you believe the person has contravened the human rights act of 1959, or desecrated the constitution.  Most of these e-mails are politically motivated, mean-spirited, twistings of the truth.  I don't want them, and you honestly shouldn't be forwarding them.

Rule 3:  If I haven't forwarded an e-mail to you that is similar in topic, then I probably don't want it.  If I am not sending you cute little stories about puppies, or treatises on school prayer (I'll talk about that topic another day)-- then you can confidently assume that I am not interested in receiving them.  

Rule 4:  Fact check before you send it.  Even if the e-mail claims that it has checked it out at much of what is out there on the internet is lies.  A duck's quack doesn't echo?  Yes, actually it does.  The muslims will take over the United States by 2050?  Not likely.  We have so many people in our country that can't be convinced that God is real, the muslims won't have any better luck convincing people than the Christians have.  (By the way, there have been many sermon illustrations that I have used over the years, which I have learned after the fact weren't true -- it is easy to get duped.)

Rule 5:  If you really think that the video or story would be good for use in worship, actually write a paragraph summary of it, and include a personally statement of why it touched you.  That might actually get me to sit up and take notice of it.

Rule 6:  If you are a Nigerian widow who wants to send me $25,000,000 -- you don't have to write me and tell me, just go to the church website and use the paypal button.  All taken care of!

So there you go, a few rules of etiquette for e-mail.  If any pastors out there would like to contribute further rules, please add them in the comments!

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