Old jokes clogging your inbox are bad enough. Stupid “warnings” about the most unlikely hazards are worse: they irritate the smart people and panic the dumb ones. Now and then, when someone forwards an urban legend to a bunch of people, they really pay a big price.
Rarely is that price as large as the one Rose Lambert paid — and is still paying — but as you’ll see, it can happen! From True‘s 17 June 2001 issue:
What’s the Harm?
Every morning, Rose Lambert tells herself that she meant well, but she really wishes she had never sent The E-mail. She passed along a warning message from a colleague that HIV-contaminated hypodermic needles were hidden under gas pump handles, ready to stick and infect the unaware. What lent credence to the tale, headlined “SADLY, THIS IS NOT A JOKE!!!!!!!!!!”, was her signature: she’s an aide to a Fairfax County (Va.) Supervisor, and her government affiliation is included with the warning. Every day she hears from dozens of people from all over the world wanting to know if the story is true. Sadly, it was just a sick joke. “It’s been the bane of my existence, my worst nightmare,” Lambert says of the uproar. “This is now the story of my life. I can’t wait until it’s over. I may have to die first.” (Washington Post) …That would be a great idea, except her death would just make the story that much more believable.
Don’t forward urban legends as fact! If you don’t know whether a warning or other message is real or legend, you shouldn’t be forwarding it! Find out the truth before you make a fool of yourself. The “warning” could well “BE A JOKE” — and the joke will be on you.
Related Page: Can spam lead to losing all your money, even your life? Absolutely! Read how — it’s easier than you might think.
Last, if you’re sick of old jokes and dumb hoaxes clogging your inbox, subscribe to This is True and get new entertaining true stories sent once each week by e-mail. Use the form on this page — basic subscriptions are free!