Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Internet fads

One of the banes of my existence are the latest amusing emails doing the rounds in big offices being sent to me by friends. Let's get this clear, I don't have a problem with being amused. What I have a problem with is someone trying to amuse me with something that wasn't especially funny when I read it for the hundredth time ten years ago.

Since the dawning of the internet age I've worked in a big company only once (and that was a 3-month fixed contract) and was astonished by the amount of shit constantly flowing into my inbox to the extent that it actually stopped me being able to do my job properly. I am often quite grateful that I don't work in that kind of environment now.

Today I got two emails from completely unrelated directions with the same text (though formatted very differently). This got me wondering what caused this text to become trendy again, given that I've seen it several times in the last few years already?

A Google search on an extract unlikely to have beeen used in any other c0ntext resulted in 164,000 hits , a lot of them recent blogs reposting the same thing over and over again.

This also makes me wonder, not for the first time, how many bloggers ever consider, when repeating material they've read elsewhere, whether it's been reported before? After all, if it's doing the rounds as a "funny email", it's got history, doesn't it? And is NOBODY interested in what that history might be before repeating it, YET AGAIN?

Thanks to a tip from @fueledbyregret I discovered just now that you can sort Google results by date, which saved me the trouble trying to find earlier versions, and it got me to 31st January 2001 on http://www.lightbroker.com/. So this has been going on for nine years, is repeated on over a hundred thousand pages on the internet, and people are STILL repeeating it as if it's fresh news?

Is it any wonder that urban myths get spread around so quickly and easily nowadays when people don't seem to have the mental capacity to question what they read from some anonymous source and accept it as the truth and or/original? There are sites out there which specialise in debunking this shit, so use them, folks!

I understand that we all find stuff for the first time and want to share our enthusiasm for it. But links to previous iterations work just as well as presuming that nobody else has seen it before!


  1. I normally ignore my spam folder but of course most of this comes from friends and coworkers. I discovered Googles extract search not long ago and was shocked at the results. Now I use it all the time just to see what others are blogging about. ;-)

  2. Oh God, this rings so true for me. I remember reading some of these emails back when t'internet was all words, no pictures. And when I receive "50 things to do in an elevator" for the 9 billionth time and someone still laughs I almost cry.

    Please God let some new stuff come to spam soon...