Friday, April 4, 2014

OCD and How to Stop Nasty Chain Letters!

For many people with OCD or anxiety disorders, nasty chain letters, now being sent as chain e mails and texts, can wreak havoc. They are threatening messages that promise bad fortune onto the unfortunate person who doesn't forward it on to a certain number of people. Often, they are included at the end of a normal sounding message. They consist of something that says, "if you do not forward this message to 10 people you will have 11 years of bad luck," etc.

Why would people do this? I think it is an easy way for some nasty, lazy people to get their ads or messages to a greater number of people. Also it is a convenient way to spread a computer virus, to overload servers, and to troll for e mail addresses. Some people enjoy spreading guilt and fear. Others send it on because they are afraid that the warning will come true. Once an isolated annoyance, this disturbing practice is now affecting a large number of people, as people nowadays are literally attached to their cell phones and tablets and can't avoid them. In addition to being intimidating and fear-provoking, they cost money in minutes and text messages, which can add up.

Chain texts really can’t be ignored. You have to address them – you can either send misery to another 10 or so people, or delete and perhaps suffer anxiety. As I said before, people with OCD or other anxiety disorders can be greatly affected in a bad way by these texts.

One of my blog readers wrote,  "I just got one the other day telling me that if I didn’t forward the text my mother was going to die. I hate these things." Researching chain texts, I found an article about that text, which is also sent in e-mail form. It was written by Parry Aftab – here is an excerpt:

"In 1997, when I was writing the “Parents Guide to the Internet” I began talking to tweens about their online experiences. One mother and tween shared an experience about a chain e-mail the girl had received. “Send this to ten of your closest friends, or your mother will die!” Clearly the kids had upped- the-ante since I was a tween 45 years ago. They hadn’t just moved online. They had moved from offering good luck and happiness to scare tactics.
This 11 –year-old promptly deleted the email, proud of herself for not falling for the message. Then, at 3am she woke up screaming, fearing she had signed her mother’s death warrant. No matter how hard her mother tried to convince her, the only way to get her to go back to sleep was to retrieve the email from the deleted file and send it to ten others. Her mother added a note to delete the message once the recipients get it."

I have some good advice about how to end these:
If these pesky chains really get to you, send a message to your contacts and post a message on social media, like Facebook or Twitter and ask all your friends and followers not post these messages, or include you in them. You can add that you will block anyone who does.
If these are on your phone, you can call your provider and block the number.
Delete immediately before reading to the end and think about something else before it can upset you.
If you are really stressed about this, please remember to think logically. Whom do you know who has ever had bad luck from not sending a chain text message or email? Where is the article in the paper, online, or on TV saying that this has ever happened? If these threats were true, we would see proof all over. I have never seen one, because it has not happened, so therefore you have nothing to worry about!
Here is more information if you want to end these. I hope no one has any more unnecessary anxiety from this nasty nonsense!