Let’s put a stop to Internet chain letters

by Helena Rodriguez

If you don’t download this column from our newspaper Web site immediately and forward it to 12 people, you will be struck by lightning. Then as you get up and try to walk away, a bulldozer will run over you. Wait, that’s not all. Before you take your last breath, your lover will announce they’re leaving you.

But then again, nothing may happen.

Now, if you forward this column to a dozen people, you may or may not win the lottery tonight. The odds are still a million to one, but you better buy tickets in case. You also may or may not receive a job promotion. But wait. That’s still not all. If you forward this column to 12 people, the sun may or may not come up tomorrow morning.

As you can see, I detest Internet chain letters! Please do not send me any. As a matter of fact, forward this column to 12 people. Better yet, forward them “The World’s Final Chain Letter” or “The Official Chain Letter Counter Attack” which can be found at Breakthechain.org or
Not only do Internet chain letters bog down our computers and take away precious time; they are a big crock!

I hate the way they impose ridiculous conditions, saying “If you don’t forward this to an X amount of people, you will bring a curse upon yourself.” I don’t believe in curses, only blessings. Even generational curses are overridden by God’s saving grace. My God is an awesome God and even he himself does not place those kinds of conditions on me. God is not going to punish me for failing to shoot off a chain letter into cyberspace.

This brings to mind the MercyMe lyrics to their song, “I’m Trading my Sorrows.” I always think of them when people mention curses. It says, “…I’m pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. I am blessed beyond the curse and his promise will endure and his joy’s gonna be my strength…”

The majority of Internet chain letters are urban legends. There are no millionaires promising to pay a dying child so many cents for each e-mail. I also checked out the Make-A-Wish Foundation Web site and they state that they do not participate in e-mail chain letters claiming a child’s dying wish is to get so many e-mails.

Besides Internet chain letters, there are other ways people needlessly preoccupy themselves with curses. Many Hispanics go to “curanderas,” which are like medicine women (or men) claiming to have healing powers. Others go to psychic hotlines. I still can’t figure out how Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Friends Network went bankrupt. She should have seen that coming.

Then there’s the issue of Harry Potter who is praised by many for getting children to actually pick up books and read. I took a lot of slack when I wrote a column against Harry Potter when I worked for the Abilene Reporter-News in 2001. I also won a Lone Star Award from the Houston Press Club for that column and continue to stand by what I said.

People took my words out of context, but basically I just said the first Harry Potter movie was not true to the novel, which I did read by the way. In “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” Harry was more set with getting revenge but was made to look more innocent in the movie. My problem with Harry Potter is with the black magic. That’s what it is. It emphasizes believing in yourself and your own powers rather than God.

Unlike Potter, I don’t believe someone can put curses or spells on you, at least not on someone who trusts in God. We will all experience trials and tribulations in our lives like Job, but that only means we’re being refined like gold and made stronger. And so when I get an e-mail chain letter saying I better comply or suffer the consequences — the only real consequences being that I will get more chain letters — I just hit delete.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: