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I totally just won the U.K. Lottery. SEE YOU LATER LOSERS.

Confession: I got suckered recently.

My dad told me a story the not-too-long-ago on the phone. It was funny in a kind of weird, distressing way, so I passed it along to someone.

The story my dad told me?

“This woman who works with your aunt has an autistic son. One day, after he’d gotten home from school, he called her at work. ‘I caught a troll,’ he said. ‘I’ve got him locked in the closet.’ She thought he was making things up, but he was very insistent, so she called her husband at work and asked him to go home and check on their son. He did, and heard banging coming from inside a closet. When he opened the closet, over his son’s protests, he found a very indignant little person, who had been going door-to-door working for the Census bureau. The son had thought he was a troll, overpowered him, and locked him in the closet.”

Sound familiar?

It should. It probably happened to a friend of a friend of yours, or your brother-in-law’s cousin, or your hairdresser’s son.

It’s a goddamn urban legend. 

Now, you’re reading this and thinking I’m a complete dumbass. And honestly, I have no idea why this didn’t raise a red flag to me. I think because it was my father telling it to me, and my father doesn’t usually fall for garbage. And he heard it from my uncle, who is very serious about things. As is my aunt. They are not the usual people who are suckered into crap.

It didn’t even hit me until a week later, when the person I’d passed the story along to said, “You know what’s funny? I told that story to my aunt, and she told me it also happened to a friend of a friend of hers! She must be friends with your aunt’s co-worker!” Ding ding ding! FRIEND OF A FRIEND. Shit shit shit. I’d passed along an urban legend. I’d become THAT GIRL. I was one step away from forwarding chain emails WRITTEN ALL IN CAPS WITH EMBARRASSING TYPOS and LOTS OF LOLS and HEARTS and CARTOONS OF FLAGS telling people that Obama is a terrorist because I’d read it somewhere on the interwebs. I might as well start wearing kittycat sweaters and getting a blue rinse in my tight old-lady perm.

What’s even more embarrassing is that I’m a huge fan of urban legends. I love to debunk those stupid emails. I’ve read books on the genesis of urban legends. I used to be obsessed with that awful show Jonathan Frakes hosted, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction. Did anyone else ever used to watch this? Apparently it aired from 1997 to 2002, but I caught it on reruns years later. It was horrendous. It had about six segments per episode, and you watched each segment (the segments were about ghosts, psychic phenomena, urban legends, and various other odd occurrences) and decided if it was a fact or fiction. Then at the end, Jonathan Frakes told you if you were right. Only, sometimes the show was wrong, and it would tell you that an urban legend was a fact, and that was off-putting. What can you expect, it was on FOX. The reenactments were horrendously produced, too. They were about as low-budget as they come. Like, people would run across a “set” and the walls would shake because they were made of cardboard. That bad. I LOVED IT. It was one of those shows that aired in repeats on Sunday afternoons when there was nothing else on and I’d get suckered in and I’d yell at the television. “THAT IS NOT A TRUE STORY JONATHAN FRAKES!” I would gleefully shout, as my roommate shook her head and wondered why I watched something that was obviously incorrect and awful.

I like urban legends because they are our generation’s version of fairy tales, passed from person to person, like back in the day when our ancestors would sit around the campfire telling stories to one another. Only they’re usually pretty stupid. But the ones that aren’t entertain me to no end. I love the creativity involved in them! The good old fashioned storytelling!

My favorites are the scary ones – like the gang initation/headlight thing (which many people I know ARE CONVINCED IS TOTALLY TRUE!!!) – or the really stupid ones, like the woman who dried her poodle in the microwave. I’m easily amused.

I get a lot of urban legend email forwards from people, which I like to forward back to them, with the Snopes article debunking their claim attached. The top ones they send are that Facebook is going to make us start paying for content (no they’re not), that Obama is a terrorist for so many reasons (I get this one because I’m one of those goddamn liberals and I live in the most goddamn liberal town full of goddamn liberals who are goddamn brainwashing me using their goddamn liberal brainwashing tactics – since I’m originally from a bastion of conservatism, people there think it is their duty to educate me that my beliefs are WRONG and I am SUPPORTING TERRORISTS) (and Obama isn’t a terrorist, so STOP IT PEOPLE), and a million of those chain letters telling me that if I don’t forward them, everyone I love is going to die in a horrible bloody chainsaw tractor accident and then get hit by a meteorite sent by a  vengeful God.

STOP SENDING ME GARBAGE.

I even get them at work. It’s gotten so bad that my IT department had to send out a memo earlier in the month telling people the signs to look for that what you’re forwarding to people is probably an urban legend and not a very hot tip that your friends need to know in order to survive and not die screaming.

The tips from the IT department:

It suggests tragic consequences for not performing some action.

It promises money or gift certificates for performing some action.

It claims it’s not a hoax.

There are multiple spelling or grammatical errors, or the logic is contradictory.

There is a statement urging you to forward the message.

It has already been forwarded multiple times (evident from the trail of email headers in the body of the message).

These are good tips, IT department. However, people don’t pay attention to them. They read these tips, they think, “Hey! Good tips!” and then forward the next damn hoax that comes along, because they think that the tips don’t apply to them. People think they are exempt from the rules of urban legends. Much like me and my stupid passing along of the troll story, they think “but this will not happen to ME! I would not pass along an urban legend!”

Let’s look at these tips in more detail.

It suggests tragic consequences for not performing some action/It promises money or gift certificates for performing some action/There is a statement urging you to forward the message.

People still think – STILL, and this started happening EONS ago – that Bill Gates is going to send them money for forwarding an email. It’s not going to happen. Also, those chain emails that say that if you don’t forward an email to the ten most fabulous women you know within the next fifteen minutes or you will NEVER FIND LOVE EVER and also, if you don’t send it back to the person who forwarded it to you, SHE WILL KNOW WHAT A SHITTY FRIEND YOU ARE? Well, color me shitty, because I just hit delete, asshole. STOP SPAMMING ME. Seriously. Why are you wasting our mutual time on this? Why aren’t you WORKING? At WORK? I mean, I know why I’m not. I’ve got a very important and socially-relevant blog about important things like whorish Halloween costumes and pie charts to write and if I don’t write in it, there are literally TENS of people who will be disappointed. But you? And the worst thing, one of the people who sent me the most of these, before I completely blocked her email, was in the medical field. Um. You’re supposed to be saving people’s lives, I think? And also, years of medical school, and you still think that chain letters both work and are something that you need to fill your friend’s email inboxes with? If I ever get injured, please bring me to any hospital but yours. Thanks in advance.

It claims it’s not a hoax.

I love this. That’s someone sending you an email telling you you’ve won the British Lottery, or someone telling you that they’re the Prince of Uganda and you need to deposit their check into your bank account, or a homeless person coming up to you, smelling of beer, telling you they just need $20 for a bus ticket to visit their sick mother. “But it MUST be true! It SAYS SO! Right HERE!” Yes! Yes it does. Well! Then how could it be A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FALSEHOOD. Because NO ONE HAS EVER LIED TO ANYONE EVER IN PRINT.

There are multiple spelling or grammatical errors, or the logic is contradictory.

Well, if it’s coming from one of the people who usually send me this kind of crap, the spelling errors could either be in the original message, or coming from them, honestly, so this one’s hard to tell. And as for logic – well, logic isn’t really the strong suit of people who are sending these things. People who are sending these things think that a multitude of celebrities died falling off of cliffs, that black and white caterpillars are poisonous, and casinos pump extra oxygen in to keep gamers awake and playing longer.

It has already been forwarded multiple times (evident from the trail of email headers in the body of the message).

Then it MUST be true. Look at all the people who have already seen it! THIS IS A FAMOUS EMAIL.

Here’s my urban legend advice.

If you hear “friend of a friend” – GO TO SNOPES.COM.

If it sounds overly jingoistic and suspect – GO TO SNOPES.COM.

If you get an email forward with a lot of caps, misspellings, and teddy bear cartoons – DELETE IT.

If you send me garbage like this – BE PREPARED TO GET A SNOPES LINK FORWARDED BACK TO YOU, or, alternately, GO DIE IN A FIRE YOU’RE WASTING MY PRECIOUS TIME.

Now, send this post to everyone you know within the next ten minutes or you will not get the money that’s coming to you, you will get boils on your face, your hair will fall out, your prince will NEVER come, and you’ll get crabs the size of cockroaches. A friend of a friend told me so. IT MUST BE TRUE.

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About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

4 responses to “I totally just won the U.K. Lottery. SEE YOU LATER LOSERS.

  • Cara Elizabeth

    So the story goes… my sister was trying to scare my littler sister. I was visiting for the summer… she put the dog into the microwave and pressed on right as I came in the room. I didn't realize what she was doing but when she saw me she quickly turned it off and opened the door… saw the dog jump out and I suddenly realized what she was doing… I started screaming at her while I grabbed poor Snickers… she seemed okay but I took her to the vet's anyway. Our dad went off the deep end around this time- long story- and it really had a bad effect on my sister. She was in a dark place. I asked her why she did it- she said she heard about the Urban Legend and was curious- and she was being mean to the little sister. Hello serial killer.

    Like

  • Anonymous

    I heard that snopes.com was hacked by trolls!

    Like

  • Amy

    I'm equally confused and entertained by this comment. I think it's the exclamation point that does it. IT! IS! SO! CHEERFUL!

    Like

  • Alberto

    Glad to be one of several visitors on this awful site :D.

    Like

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