I’m pretty sure everyone knows what chain messages are. For those who don’t (I doubt there will be anyone in this category) chain letters are annoyingly long messages about some random crap that ask you to forward the same to a number of people after reading them and claim that if you don’t, something weird will happen to you; mostly about the person being killed or something. These chain messages are all up on social networking sites and even in mail! Usually our mail filters it out as spam but sometimes the folders are filled with stupid messages that ask the person to forward the message to other people.
Thinking of spam, I remember that recently I got a mail for confirming my email id for a dating website. Believe me, I completely freaked out! I checked the link and there was actually a profile by my name! I asked a friend and after a little research here and there, he told me that it was a spam website and they send these mails to people.
I sure was relieved, but that kinda prompted me to check out its history, which then brought me to chain messages.
At first, these messages were sent in the form of letters passed through hand or sent in mail (like Send-a-Dime letter) and the person was asked to make copies and forward them to other people. They would include examples of people who obeyed and were rewarded and those who didn’t suffered. (Wikipedia)
It evolved later into the current forms we have now. There was this one time I came across one chain message on my mom’s phone about a girl dying in a horrible way and that if I didn’t forward the message to 10 friends, she would come to my room on a Monday night and kill me. I was about 10 years old and not to mention, I got pretty freaked out. Yeah, I slept beside mom that day.
It’s funny how some pages on Facebook put out some famous person’s face (or a poor kid) and ask people to like it or one of their loved one will die. And not surprisingly, the get over a million likes! Why people actually believe in all that is completely out of my reach. I guess over the years we have all come to create some sort of a connection between coincidence and luck. Especially when we are going on a date we tend to wear our ‘lucky’ dress just because the last time we wore it, the date went well (*wink*), or seeing somebody’s face right after you wake up so your day goes well just because it happened so before. These are nothing but superstitious beliefs and I’m sure we all tend to believe in them in some way or the other.
There is an article by B.F Skinner about the relationship between learning (operant conditioning) and our belief in superstitions. He takes the example of the pigeon and how it learns to act in a certain way so it can be rewarded through food because of an earlier established connection between ritual and favourable consequences. (Webb)
Here’s the link:
And yeah, next time you come across a chain message, please, for the love of God, DO NOT FORWARD THEM or…. do I really need to mention the rest?