Chain letters seem to have faded in popularity, and thank goodness for that, but people still forward a modern variation, emails that often relate a supposedly true story, sometimes of a “the media isn’t reporting this” variety. I don’t receive many of these either, another cause for a thank goodness, but when I do I always check the website Snopes.com.
Snopes investigates urban legends and spoof emails, debunking them or clarifying them or confirming their veracity.
At least twice in 2011, people forwarded me emails urging protests against the inclusion of Jane Fonda in a “women of the century” program on ABC. This one was true, but a little outdated; the program aired in 1999 — as one might expect of a program titled “Women of the Century” — and the email has continued circulating more than a decade into a new century. Hatred of Jane Fonda is eternal.
And recently, a reader forwarded me an email with a video that allegedly spoke for itself: President Obama leaving a podium after denouncing Republicans at a press conference and angrily kicking open a door at stage left.
Uh, really? This alleged news clip turns out to be a spoof video by Jay Leno, stripped of its context and made to look official.
Sad. Isn’t there enough real stuff about the president to object to without resorting to inventing more? I’m just saying.
Occasionally, one of these forwarded emails is absolutely true, as in one about photos showing Iraqi fighter jets buried in the sand. Why it’s necessary to continue sending around a 2003 email in 2011, which is when I got it, is another matter.
As I say, I don’t get many of these emails anymore, but when I do, I check them out on Snopes and “reply all” with the link to Snopes’ analysis. (Which may be why I don’t get many such emails anymore.) My action doesn’t accomplish much, but maybe the recipients won’t forward the email, or will be more skeptical in the future. As the saying goes, just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t make it true. The usual rules apply.