Stupidity Steps Forward

I declared a state of emergency in my home yesterday for about eleven minutes. I am mostly to blame for this, but nonetheless, it originated with a stuper (short again, for a predominantly stupid person).

I received an e-mail. Generally, while reading such mail, my right hand gingerly grips my mouse, as index finger hovers, poised and hungry for action. I prepare to highlight and delete. The instant my eyes fall upon the name of a certain sender, I left click my mouse so fiercely, I half expect its innards to fly out and shatter the glass on my screen. Oh, would that it had!

The subject of the e-mail in question was “Amber Alert.” As you may know, this refers to a child abduction crisis. The sender was Judy*. Instinctively, whenever Judy’s name appears on my screen, I hit delete, take cover in case I missed, then once I am assured of success, I get up and take a walk. If your name is Judy, and you’ve e-mailed me, chances are it was deleted, unread.

As I strolled, I began to feel a mild pinch of guilt. What if Judy was like The Boy Who Cried Wolf? What if this one time, she actually conveyed a meaningful message regarding a missing child? Are you shaking your heads? If not, you should be because I went back to my computer screen, dove into my deleted box of discarded missives and retrieved Judy’s wretched e-mail.

It was, as I expected, a notice about a missing boy, complete with pictorial and heart wrenching plea from the anguished mom asking for help to find her child. A tear sprang to my eye; my heart swelled for the mother’s pain. He looked like such a gamely youth. I memorized his innocent features lest I run into the frightened teen cowering between a couple of Mack Truck-size thugs when I went shopping that very afternoon. A picture of me cleverly and bravely rescuing the child sprinted across my mind. I’d wear my tennis shoes and carry a baseball bat to the grocery store, just in case.

Amid such thoughts, I scrolled down Judy’s e-mail past the 250 or so names it’d been forwarded to and noticed that it had been sent to Judy by a woman with whom I was familiar. This lady seemed an intelligent, detail-oriented sort. I smelled a faint air of legitimacy. At the bottom, she urged readers to forward it to one and all.

Dutifully, I forwarded it to my mother whom I knew would indefatigably distribute the e-mail. Then I decided that if I were going to play a part in reuniting the boy with his dear mother, I’d better conduct a Google search. I entered his name. These key words caught my eye in the first five entries:

“Urban Legend,” “Boy Isn’t Missing,” “Netlore,” “Hoax” and “If you forward this, you will be forever branded an idiot.”

Drat! I’d been duped. The victim of a facile prank cloaked in an appeal to my maternal emotions. I contacted my mother and told her to immediately press delete.

I’d survived all previous Internet scams sent via Judy. Yet this time, I was practically combing the streets for a missing youth that was in reality at home, playing with his iPod. Had my healthy skepticism eloped with my unfaithful sense of reason?

I knew I was not alone. This e-mail had an expansive circulation in the two months since it had been sent adrift. Are we all stupers? Not all, but some, certainly. I forwarded this because I actually believed for a few moments that I could help another person (insert doleful violins playing something by Debussy).

I suggest that should you receive an e-mail of this type, be watchful of certain telltale signs of trickery, such as:

  • “Please forward to everyone you know”
  • Lack of legitimate governmental agency involvement
  • Promises of large monetary payouts
  • If sent by one whose first name is Judy

Think before you forward.


* Yes, this is the same Judy who’s been featured here twice before, as you old time readers know.

11 Responses to “Stupidity Steps Forward”

  1. Agnes Mildew says:

    It doesn’t matter that you forwarded it to your Mother out of a stab of compassion – what matters is that you then went to Google the scenario! I am so chuffed to find that there is another person out there who will do this. I receive so many hysterical emails, screaming at me that there is a virus being sent through the post which will crawl out of the envelope, climb up the PC lead and INFILTRATE MY HARDWARE, DELETING EVERYTHING, INCLUDING THE CAT, IN FIVE MINUTES…It gets on my nerves.
    Without fail, I check Urban Legends, find it is a hoax and have great delight in ‘Reply to All’ buttons, where I show the stuper up for being the divvy he is, with nothing better to do. I very rarely get them these days, because nobody likes to be shown up by a smart-arse, do they?!

  2. Reilly says:

    I really hate these chain letter type of emails. I think there should be a punishment for people who send them out.

  3. Claire says:

    Spam/Chain mail is awful and it doesn’t mean you are stupid, just too nice.
    Everyday i get bombarded with offers to make my girth wider and i am sometimes tempted to reply with ‘I am a girl you insert expletives’ But i just about manage to restrain myself.:)

  4. footiam says:

    I am not bothered by spam and chain mail. Sometimes, when I have no mail, the spam and chain letters brighten up my days. That is perhaps, how I maintain sanity!

  5. Keli says:

    I’m afraid I lack your courage and moxie in pressing “Reply to all.” I limited myself to the original sender.
    They can be frustrating, can’t they?
    I admire your self-control!
    I like your positive outlook on this matter. You set a good example!

  6. mikster says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever befriended a Judy. I’m not likely to start now thanks to this post.


  7. Julianne says:

    I’ve been duped by many a forward and always feel like a fool. is my friend.

    “indefatigably” is an excellent word by the way. I actually had to look it up. I plan on using it as often as possible in the next few days.

  8. Keli says:

    I’m glad I’ve enlightened you about “Judys”
    I’m glad I helped broaden your vocabulary. I now consider Snopes one of my buddies too.

  9. Elaine says:

    I too am a fan of snopes after I got fooled a couple of times. You know they have a weekly newsletter you can subscribe to, it’s very informative.

    Now we’re in for all the Political ones to start flooding our inboxes! I already got one on Hillary Clinton, comments she supposedly said. Sent it back to the emailer with the url for the correct story from Snopes. Got a reply back from the person, they didn’t care what snopes said, they still believed it. Does that qualify the person for your stuper club 😉

    TGIF , have a great weekend!

  10. Keli says:

    Sounds like a card-carrying member. Was her name Judy by any chance?
    Thank you – enjoy your weekend also!

  11. melissa says:

    i always check that is a list of the chain letters that go around the emails and whether or not they are real. i love it! it saves me the time of forwarding things…which, i hate doing!
    love the blog…it’s fun to read!

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