One-Click Activism

Over the last couple of weeks, I have received at least 2-3 emails daily from people who I don’t know from Raju or Adam, asking me to sign an online petition against the proposed construction of a statue of Shivaji Maharaj.
Whatever may be the merits or demerits of this petition and the project, I find it quite annoying to receive emails from people I don’t know, but in whose address books, unfortunately, at some point in time, my email ID has somehow found its way. As if spam about Viagra was not enough, I now have to deal with “armchair activists”, whose only real activism is the act of flexion of the middle and distal phalanges of the index finger, which allows them to click “Forward” and then to bask in the glow of having done some good in the world by spamming everyone in their address book, permission be damned.
And then there are other equally irritating tribes, who just can’t seem to learn correct email etiquette!
One is that of the “proud Indian”, whose members will forward every email that says something even remotely “patriotic”, especially emails that extol the virtues of Indians across the globe and end with the line “India is the only country in the World that has never invaded another”. You can easily recognize these emails, because they are usually in rainbow colors, with most words in bold, often with ALL CAPs turned on, shouting “don’t ignore me, you must read me”.
Then there are the bleeding hearts, who will forward every email about people suffering from lung cancer or a brain tumor, asking for hugs, kisses, wishes, money and God knows what else! These are the ones who are so date-challenged that they can’t seem to learn how to scroll down to the end of the email to see that it was actually written 5 years ago, which means that even if the contents were true at the time, the person concerned has already merged with the ether!
And then there are the “alarmists”, who love to spread the arrival of a new virus or worm, unaware that not only has this alarm been raised a 100 times before, but there probably is no fire to begin with. These are the same people who get their knickers in a big twist when they read about teeth dissolving overnight in a glass of Coke (not true), and then want everyone to stop drinking Coke, or think that by refusing to buy petrol for one day, they will be able to solve the world’s oil problem.
And then there are the ones who really believe that there are companies on the Internet just willing to throw money at us and so keep recirculating mails from 1999 about how Microsoft and AOL will pay cash or Sony-Ericsson will hand out laptops, to those who forward emails to everyone they know. Yeah right!
And then there are the “inner beauty” seekers who keep sending life-changing couplets superimposed on sunsets in Powerpoint presentations, followed by the “jokers”, who just can’t stop sending and resending the same old PJs over and over again.
Email is a wonderful tool when used correctly, but a pain when misused. So please…do grow up! The next time you see a multi-colored ALERT, IN ALL CAPS, with italics and in bold, or if someone wants to give you a free gift or is giving away money for nothing, just drop that email into your trash-can and if that’s difficult, just count to 100 before clicking “Forward”. Please!

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