All that FW: Stuff

by Primula 

I just had someone forward to me several long, annoyingly large emails full of giant animated glurgey pictures and sappy verse. (okay, you can tell I'm not much into Hallmark moments) I don't usually forward anything, being one of the little 'dead-end backwashes' in the river of the 'net...

One of them had an annoying animated cat-thing that commented how often the forwardee bothers the forwarder with such things and said she had all intentions of continuing to do so. The cat was meant to make it humorous of course, to make it tongue-in-cheek, but it did make me think.

I find the sort of "communal pool" of stuff that gets forwarded all over the net kind of interesting - and what's more, so often if you mention one of the more common ones all the people around you know just what you are talking about because it was forwarded to them too.

It's rather like the old-time phenomenon of "did you see what Hopalong Cassidy did last night?" when most of the folks around you were following the same storyline too - they were all tuning into the same channel at the same time, all reading the same book, so to speak. A massive group book-society, in an abbreviated way - a shared tale that provided a common ground or superficial connection point between strangers.

You may even consider that the 'forwarded sappy email' is akin to our own online society here, in a faint, shallow, shadowy way. Here we all have a common point of reference to unite us - Tolkien's works. While considerably deeper, richer and more complex than any email full of dancing pigs and spastically reblooming roses it gives us that base from which we can launch our connections to one another, the ability to assume that the other person is at least passingly familiar with what we are speaking of, knows what the quote or reference is about and understands it.

As Aesop said, one man's meat is another man's poison.

I personally prefer the tome to the greeting-card approach, but perhaps both do have a legitimate place in this varied wide world, which helps me accept yet another email of paintings with water effects added to them and giant pink scripty effusions of affection. After all, if I choose to connect to others by discussing (in depth!) such things as the molecular structure of a mythical Ring that can apparently change size when it wants to, who am I to deny others their connection to the world with glurge?

Just, as you say, musing.