The other week, someone (on Facebook I think it was) “Liked” a picture of a dog in trouble. The dog was seemingly being rescued from freezing-cold waters by people holding out a ladder, trying to drag it back to safety.
The caption on the photo read as follows:
Like this photo if you would rescue this dog. Ignore it if you don’t care.
I ignored it. And it has troubled me ever since.*
Occasionally, I’ll receive an all-too-long email, usually from someone dear to me, asking me to forward it to a specified number of friends to bring good luck to both them and me, and quite likely the person who sent it to me. (Wow, this month has five Mondays, five Tuesdays and five Wednesdays. The first time since the Gregorian calendar was introduced.**)
I always ignore them.
And all too frequently, a post will appear on Facebook with the words “R.I.P Morgan Freeman” (it’s always Morgan Freeman, and there’s never a full stop after the P). The latest one has been Liked 1,438,643 times, has 378,778 comments and has been shared a staggering 61,344 times.
I’ve ignored it. It’s not because I don’t like the man. I genuinely rate him as an actor. It’s because I’m quite certain he’s not dead. So suggesting that he rests in peace, at this stage in his life, would literally be a death wish.
There are similar variants. “Press L to see what happens next” is a common one. (L, coincidentally, is the Facebook shortcut for liking a post, btw. If you press L, nothing appears to happen, and you soon move on to look at some pictures of cute cats. (Cue lolz.) Meanwhile, the Like count has just incremented by one.)
I’m not sure whether their purpose is in aid of vanity by those that post them, or advertising revenue to the same. Either way, they highlight the gullibility of those who use the internet, and the power of heartstrings among the very same.
So if I ignore your email, don’t be offended. Good luck will either come to you or not, and my obeying the instructions in the email will have not a jot of impact to your life, nor indeed mine. But I urge you to take the same lack of action, for my sake as well as yours.
As an aside, when Morgan Freeman does die, it is expected that it will take three full months for anyone to acknowledge the fact, owing to the cynicism with which such “news” will be greeted by that point in time.
* I’ve since given it not a moment’s thought.