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| June 4, 2020

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The Death Of Fwd:

The Death Of Fwd:
Deepak Gopalakrishnan

Every bit of technology brings with it, its own share of annoyances. To name a few, digital music gave us Rebecca Black and social networking gave us Farmville game requests.

But there was a time, not too long ago, that there was a different type of monster, which you couldn’t get away from – they were called ‘forwards’. They could be a plea to forward the mail to 15 othersso that Bill Gates could donate money to needy children, or just a joke (that you had read umpteen times anyway, but there’s always that one friend who thinks it’s still funny). These manifested themselves as email forwards first, and then found their way to our phones as telephony (and SMSes) became affordable.

I’m sure you guys remember those days – your unread email would have at least one message whose title would resemble something like this:

Re: FW: Re rerere: FWD: Plssss read and help Nicky 🙁

Where, you were made to believe, after scrolling down about three thousand embedded email addresses (if there’s one thing that needs to be taught in primary schools, it is the concept of Bcc!) and multiple signatures in various spectral representations before we reach the crux of the message – apparently Nicky had debilitating brain damage and the cost of operation was too much for her parents. So Worldwide Health Foundation has decided to donate one dollar for every person this email was sent out to. Awwww, right? Which hard-hearted beast WOULDN’T forward that to all of his contacts (friends, family, clients, everyone) in the hope of raising money for poor Nicky to battle dementia?

From there, SMS forwards were just a progression away – starting with the ‘Good morning’ message where various characters were strategically placed in order to obtain an image of a sun rising over the mountains (used primarily by self-proclaimed Casanovas to the more aesthetically pleasing female populace of the college).

Thankfully, these things have ceased to proliferate our lives right now, and I guess part of it is thanks to the internet at large, itself. Thanks to Facebook, you don’t need to SMS stuff – you can just post it on your wall. It gratifies the ego of the sender because he gets his likes and stuff, while Facebook’s awesome algorithm of making you see only the updates of friends who you really care about takes care of the fact that you don’t see it. Things like social networking, videos, memes and live cricket scores have given us more quality distraction than apparent pics of Vijay Mallya’s bungalow.

That’s okay for the jokes and OMG UNBELIEVEEAABLE PICSS OF LORD AYAPPPA PLZZ SEE BE BLESSD SWAMIYE SARANAM sort of messages, but what of poor Nicky, I hear you ask.

Well, let’s just say the world has got a little more educated. People (well, most of them, anyway) have got inured to such phonies. I mean, all of us thought our first mail from that helpful Nigerian gent was real, right? I guess we all just acquired a very healthy sense of cynicism over using the internet. Yes, there are still poor fools who fall for such scams (which is why spammers and con-sters still have a field day – there’s always someone who clicks ‘U WANT IT XTRA LARGEEEE?? CLICK HERE!’), and the sooner they get educated, the better.

People have also got lazier – for instance, there is no value in ACTUALLY remembering a birthday anymore (so much for my old diary where I painstakingly kept everyone’s birthdays). No-one has the patience to mass-mail jokes and friendship messages to 200 people anymore – unless, of course you have groups – which is why you’ll still see many of these floating around on Whatsapp, Viber and BBM groups on mobile!

So have we signalled the death of the forward? Maybe or Maybe not. The idea of broadcasting a message still exists – but in a more refined form, to a more refined audience, through Facebook and Twitter.

Come to think of it, I wonder how people used to ‘broadcast’ in earlier times. Imagine a fellow getting a message in a bottle on the beach asking him to spread the message (about a 19th century Nicky). He probably rewrote the message on 20 pieces of parchment and put them in 20 bottles and threw them all out to sea! These days, all we have to do is click ‘share’. We have it too easy, right?

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