Sunday, February 17, 2008

Feel Free To Delete These

My Mom seemed newly determined to make some room for the Web when Cathy, Abby and I visited her and my Dad a couple weeks ago at their winter getaway in Tarpon Springs. That old clamshell iBook is most definitely ailing, so Cathy and I encouraged her to look into buying a new computer. But first we took her through some Web basics and Cathy ditched Safari and replaced it with Firefox. We did some searches, pausing briefly on Joe's blog, Through The Wire. My Mom's known Joe since high school, so I thought showing his blog to her was a nice way to demonstrate some of the intimacy the Web allows.

Later, after we returned, my Mom forwarded along an email, itself forwarded along to her by one of her friends. It contained a poem "written by a terminally ill young girl
in a New York Hospital," with the plea that all receivers "pass this mail on to everyone you know - even to those you don't know!" so as to generate small donations to the American Cancer Society's efforts to assist in "her treatment and recovery plan."

And, of course it's a hoax, circulating saccharinely since 1997. The American Cancer Society has a press release disavowing any involvement in this terminal whimsy.

Suddenly I imagined my Mom fretting as she read another email informing her of suspicious activity on a credit card. I wrote her back with dutiful warnings of the Web's many identity thieving cretins prowling about. I reminded her that any email telling her to forward it along "to as many people you know (one gentlemen was so inspired, he even forwarded to over 500 of his friends and business associates!)" is almost always a hoax. "Feel free to delete these," I told her.

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