I have in the last few days received, from several friends, this email:
I am supposed to pick 12 women (who have touched my life) and whom I think would want to participate. I think that if this group of women were ever to be in a room together, there is nothing that would be impossible. I hope I chose the right twelve. My hugs, love, gestures and communications hopefully remind you how special you are. Please send this back to me.
Remember to make a wish before you read the quotation. That's all you have to do. There is nothing attached. Just send this to twelve women and let me know what happens on the fourth day. Sorry you have to forward the message, but try not to break this, please. Did you make a wish yet? If you don't make a wish, it won't come true. This is your last chance to make a wish!
'May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.'
Now, send this to 12 women within the next 15 minutes. And remember to send this back. I count as 1... you'll see why.
Suggestion: copy and paste rather than forwarding it.
We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. ~ Japanese Proverb
The first time I read this it was early in the morning. It takes me longer than fifteen minutes to respond to a kiss first thing in the morning. Also, I can't think of twelve women I know, let alone twelve women I could feel sure would want to participate (participate in what, anyway, and why only women?). So because I am slow and unsure the message had little chance of survival once it reached my inbox. The compulsion to haste lost, I had time to question then deconstruct the message, and I found it wanting on several fronts. This really irritated me: I know the friends who sent it did so with the best of intentions. The email took advantage of them. It hijacked their emotions in order to generate the response the originator required, which is to keep it going. Why, I have no idea? I have no desire to thwart some person's ambitions (no matter how insipid they appear to be) but in this instance I feel I must: this is lazy rhetoric and bad writing, and as writing, including textual analysis, is my area I have to spoil the sport. Here is one small example of what I mean (you can't know how sorely tempted I am to do the whole thing but it would take me hours and you would lose the will to live reading it):
'I am supposed to pick 12 women (who have touched my life) and whom I think would want to participate.' I hate that "and", it has no business there, it indicates a considerable lack of care, attention, and thought. It would follow from 'who have touched my life' but, for some reason, that has been put in parenthetic brackets and so the "and" jars. It makes no sense coming after 'I am supposed to pick 12 women'.
So, from this example alone, I get the impression that whoever wrote this didn't care enough to make sure it made sense. He (or she) just wanted to get something out there so he (or ...) laced it as heavily as possible with cheap rhetorical tricks – 'There is nothing attached'; 'Sorry you have to forward the message'; 'did you make a wish yet?', and on it goes – not dissimilar to filling a punch bowl with cheap booze and fruit juice, and forced it on the public. My friends, kind, generous, and pressed for time, were then rendered squiffy enough to pass it on. It's easily done. The message bombards the reader like a machine gun, one or two bullets are likely to hit the target and one or two are enough.
When I start mixing my similes I know it's time to stop. But I'll just say one more thing: the fact that a number of intelligent people have forwarded this message illustrates the power of language.