4.24.2007

Sigh.

A colleague from back home keeps sending me forwarded emails. Today it's a chain letter about how the UK is no longer teaching about the Holocaust in schools in order to not offend Muslims (unsurprisingly, this chain mail isn't truthful). As a sociologist, I find urban legends and chain mail fascinating. As an inbox recipient, I feel somewhat more conflicted. Do I chalk it up to 'life on the internets', or do I mention to my lovely colleague that this is, in fact, hysterical nonsense based on bad journalism being used to fuel anti-Muslim sentiment in the UK and abroad? We don't know each other that well, and it feels awkward.

8 comments:

Rowan said...

do I mention to my lovely colleague that this is, in fact, hysterical nonsense based on bad journalism being used to fuel anti-Muslim sentiment in the UK and abroad? We don't know each other that well, and it feels awkward.

The longer you leave it, the more awkward it is going to get when you finally have to give the smack down. Then they may find you inconsistent and wonder what turned you against their awesome forwards.

If you change their behavior, their friends will thank you also -- except for the ones who will gamely pass the forward along themselves. (But THEIR friends will thank you.)

(It might be less awkward to make the general case against forwarding e-mail hoaxes without making your specific objection so politically on top of things.)

Jean said...

Definitely say something. If nothing else, forward the snopes link.

pengovsky said...

The most important thing you can do, is NOT to forward such emails. I'm sure you don't do that anyhow, but the dynamics of roumors relies on "just-in-case" psychology.

A simmilar thing occured recently in Slovenia regarding the Roma family Strojan, when someone (a deputy in National Assembly!) released a indictment by the Distric Attorney accusing one of the members of the family of a rape. This person was acquitted in the court of law even before the mail hit the mailboxes, but that did not stop people forwarding it. Just in case. So the best thing I could do is not forwards it myself and send a reply to the sender explaining to him/her what actually happened.

Lisa said...

Yeah, I totally agree. I don't send these things on because the goal is to spread hysteria and for the original author to get off on their anonymous power. And because I hate fraking email spam.

But a well worded email to my colleague is probably a good idea. I'll tread gently, but you're right, it is important to do a little to nip this in the bud (at least in one tiny corner of the internet). There are real world consequences to these things.

Lisa said...

Also, thanks for the info about the Strojan family...I didn't know that email played a role in the gathering of the mob. Makes sense though...just a 21st century version of whispered rumours that fueled lynching in the States.

pengovsky said...

Re: Strojan family... The precise role of that particular email in forming anti-Roma sentiment is debatable. Personally, I'd say that racism and intolerance were already there and that e-mail is more of a symptom than a cause.

Lisa said...

Oh, absolutely. I don't mean to say that an email can cause anything on its own, the racism is definitely there or there wouldn't be a spark. It's just fuel for the fire, and that's why the original person sends them out...in hopes there will be a reaction.

I meant to say that certain types of rumours and their latter day counterparts (email) are almost always a feature of mob mobilizations against minorities.

Anonymous said...

here's a rumour to spread:

The UK has stopped allowing the sale of "Italian pizza" because of strong anti-Italian sentiment and further closening of policy and culture with the US.

The debate stems from the origin of the pizza. Some say it originated in New York, others in various regions of Italy... The UK has taken sides in this matter once and for all by banning the use of language such as "authentic Italian" and other simliar statements that make inaccurate claims with reference to any pizza pie.