Saturday, June 03, 2006

Death Defying Logic

Has anyone ever wondered, what goes through people's minds when they read a chain mail ? Its stunning, because whenever I see one in my inbox, an automatic disaster response mechanism gets activated & the mail is not found anywhere after that.

To find the dynamics of chain mails, we first need to analyze their generation. Who types these mails ? Who has the authority or the power or frankly the time to influence people's lives though an email ? Really, some mails even say, “This is a message from GOD, if u ignore it will happen to you in the next 7 days “. At times like these I wonder, what's God's IP address ??

The main purpose of existence of chain mails, is because of the weak links in the society. They are those people who get easily persuaded by external happenings. Now for instance, people who receive a mail which says that it contains a lucky charm, & if they don't forward it, they will be cursed till eternity & crap, people who are sane enough not to believe in concepts like luck or attaching charms through email will immediately delete it. On the other hand, our fellow weak links of society will believe in it so earnestly that they will dig out their address books to look for email ids to forward this mail just to complete the count of email ids. After spending considerable amount of time in reading these chain mails & also studying the pattern in which they are sent & resent I have drawn some firm conclusions.

The people who forward these mails, aren't weak links. They are almost always sane people like you & me. Forwarding chain mails is like doing a criminal activity. You wouldn't normally do it but some circumstances make you do it. Say, a guy who is in the middle of his exams & is prone to fail them elegantly, receives a chain mail from his dear friend who is almost exactly like him when it comes to exams. Now the chain mail specifically mentions that, “if you do not forward this mail to 30 people within the next 30 minutes, you will fail in your exams”. Now this guy who reads it, is scared shitless. He doesn't know what to do, he himself doesn't approve of sending such chain mails, but subconsciously he believes in not taking any chances at failing. So his weakness becomes his motivation & he forwards the mail to 30 poor chaps who are completely unaware of whats coming their way. This is a classic example of situation winning over human will. Imagine such a fellow in your email list. That can be disastrous because probably you will receive this mail.

The only technique that these mails use is the simple method of persuasion through suggestion. Due to the advancement in formatting emails, these mails can be made to look as if its actually coming from an authoritative source, using BOLD & large fonts. Persuasion can work wonders when its used at the right time. The other kind of people who receive chain mails are amazingly the strongest links of the society. They get a chain mail they curse the son of a bitch who sent it & delete it with a smile on their face. Persuasion doesn't seem to work on these tough nuts. Some of them who appreciate some humor in their lives, usually take the pains to read through the mails & laugh on seeing the forwarded addresses list. Probably some of these people are religious, extremely religious & can be broken down if they receive a mail from GOD asking them to forward it. Again, this makes them quasi-strong. But some of us with guts of steel, who know that God doesn't use internet, delete these mails whole heartedly & wonder what the hell were those people thinking when they forwarded it.

The chain mails mostly spread, hoaxes, urban legends, amazingly hilarious rumours & sometimes huge amounts of gossip. They can even cause damage, if read by the inappropriate audience. For instance, a religious hate mail in the form of a chain mail can be responsible for chaos if the readers have a history of psychopathy & can have serious effects when it comes to children, who have read them.

But surprisingly this chain mailing has a plus point. Using the concept of suggestion & persuasion, chain mailers can persuade people to take decisions that they usually would not take. This is a strong but annoying marketing concept. All you need to do is to hint at the customer to make him think about the product. Now the philosophy of weak links & strong links is dominant here as well. Imagine, someone receives a mail about a new product launch that removes hair inside the nose with 15% more accuracy & 15% less pain than the other products in the market. This mail is sent to 10 people whose email ids were stolen or captured from some market research or survey. Now 8 out of 10 people will move along & mind their own business. While the 2 of them, will actually contemplate about getting this product, because of the 15% oomph. They will use the phone number in that mail & order one for themselves. In a month or so, if the product is good enough, they will start marketing it passively by suggesting their friends or relatives how they found this nice little hair removing machine through a stupid chain mail & brag about it. Believe me, atleast some people will heed to this word of mouth & get that machine. This is an ultimate marketing strategy making use of basic human emotions & technology.

But as a final verdict, do we need to believe in chain mails ? I know I wont.

So next time when you receive a mail from GOD & have to desperately forward it to someone before you fail in your exams, please believe me, I am already in hell & having a great time.

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