Oh the irony: It IS the scam…

Scams are dime a dozen these days. There are phone and email scams and social media scams and those that show up in your letterbox promising marriage to a Nigerian prince and more money than you could imagine.

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They’re annoying, but though many of us have been momentarily sucked in, we’ve all learned to be pretty ‘scam-savvy.’ Or so we think.

What does my head in these days is the number of ‘chainmail scams’ people fall for on Facebook. Sure, we all know that if we don’t pass on that letter or email we probably won’t have seven years’ bad luck, and our beloved dog Fluffy probably won’t die (I don’t have any beloved pet, but I’m sure it’s frightening for those who do). But it seems that thousands have missed what modern-day chain mail is.

Our fear has made us quick to warn our friends of any impending scams. What it seems people are missing, however, is: those ‘pass it on’ warning messages on Facebook? That IS the scam!

No, Facebook won’t shut down your account if you don’t share this notification.

No, Facebook is not rife with more hackers than usual, requiring you to ‘copy and paste’ on your wall.

It’s probably not even ‘International Siblings Day’ (for the 10th time this year.)

Share what you like, but share what you like. Don’t share because you’re afraid that life as you know it might change if you don’t. I expect things will be okay for a while yet.

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A Love Affair with Letters

Photo Credit: AusPost Ad Campaign

I’ve always loved letters; real ones of course, on real paper written with a real pen. As a child I had various pen pals. We used to send each other stickers and cheap necklaces, cramming as much into the envelope as we could, anticipating the day when the reply would arrive; a treasure in the mailbox.

In high school, my friends and I used to write each other letters; copious sheets of A4 note paper, containing secrets about boys and folded into tiny packages to be passed discreetly beneath desks.

As email rose to power the traditional letter gradually faded like a flower, and I would hardly know how long it’s been since I received one, that is, until last night.

Church was about to start when a long-time friend of mine handed me an envelope. Accustomed to receiving various birthday invites at church, I quickly opened it, only to discover two sheets of lined paper torn out of a notebook, covered with hand written words. Even before I read it I was touched. After I read it, I was speechless. This friend had taken the time out to write me a letter of encouragement; telling me that she was thinking of me and of ways in which I had inspired and encouraged her, and she’d done it, quite intentionally, by hand.

I was reminded, once again of the beauty of this almost-lost art.

This week, why not encourage someone with a hand written letter? I’m going to.