"Cross Section Of A Chain Letter"
We've all gotten them at one time or another, and sadly, some of us have passed them on to friends and loved ones.  Nope, I'm not talking about V.D., but something just as irritating...chain letters!  Once thought to be a dying practice, the chain letter has been given new life, and indeed ten-fold it's original capacity for annoyance with the advent of the internet and e-mail.  The origins of the very first chain letter are scetchy at best, but I would guess the first chain letter was written on sheep skin and delivered across the continent on foot by the servant of a malcontent druid sometime around the dawning of written history.  Either through threats of misfourtune, or promises of riches (i.e. the "send a dollar to everyone you know" pyramid scheme), chain letters have been coearsing those just barely smart enough to read into passing along copies to those unfortunate enough to be on their mailing lists.  But unlike those rare chain letters you may have gotten in the mail, e-mail chain letters are by far the most alarming mutation of their paper forefathers.  Not only do you have to wade through the dozen or so sub-sections of any given letter, but the addresses of everyone it's ever been sent to up to that point.  What you get is a detailed log of everyone foolish enough to be lured by the charms of a chain letter, you get a peek at the stunning originality of some of these people. (foo_fighter2004@yahoo.com, LADIESMAN4029@aol.com, and Princess7299459@aol.com to use some real examples)

Your basic chain letter is broken up into to some, or even all of the following categories:

1. The Testimonial - Typically found near the start or the end of a chain letter, here you will find the actual accounts from those souls that were either foolish enough to ignore the chain letter, or are reaping the benefits due to passing it along as instructed.  "Sorry, but this chain letter is for real, I got it the first time, and I ignored it and a week later and the love of my life for 6-months dumped me for no good reason so beware, and just send the stupid letter!!!!!" It's more than likely you were dumped on account of the fact that you are an idiot.  It's a good thing you came to your senses and sent the letter after all.  Nothing turns the chicks on more than a man who'll believe anything he's told...and I'm not joking, either.

2. Knowledge That Could Save Your Life - Computer viruses, deadly spiders that lurk under your toilet seat, and government conspiracies...oh, my!  It seems the internet is populated by boy scouts and park rangers these days, always passing along news of the greatest threat since the killer bees.  This is typically the best way to get folks to pass along the letter, because if they're stupid enough to buy it, chances are they have freinds that will too.  Besides, don't you think the best way to pass along a virus would be to disguise it as a warning about computer viruses?

3. The Cute Poem or Joke - In an effort to be somewhat courteous, some chain letters will include a poem about love or flatulence, and on rare occasion, a good joke.  This bodes well with the younger generation, and the why-boys-love-girls and vice-versa bits have done extremely well.  The girls will send these along to girlfreinds on account of the Cute Factor, and to drop hints to the boys.  Tack on a threat of never getting laid, and the guys will sent this one rocketing out of the inbox.

4. Religeous Messages - This letter can be really annoying, because it starts out like it could be a good joke, and usually ends up with someone dying in a drunk driving accident.  You'll want to send this one along to as many of your friends and family as possible, as this may be your last chance to say "I love you" before it's too late.  What works with these chain letters is the twist they always throw in at the end: 'You probably won't send this letter on, because most people are ashamed to admit they love Jesus.  No, you'll probably delete it, thus effectively renouncing God and all that is good and holy.  Yep, you'll probably go directly to your favorite porn bookmarks and forget all about this little message that could have saved somebody's soul you love from eternal firey damnation.' You're not a heathan, are you?  You Got Jesus, don't you?  Well...make with the clickin's!  Jesus may love you, but I think you're a gullible moron.

5. Granting Of Wishes - Ah, yes...Virtual Genie in your inbox!  At long last, all your hopes and dreams can come true...if only you send this letter to fifteen people in the next five minutes.  If you're lucky, you'll even get some options as far as the wish granting goes.  Depending on how many people you send it to directly affects the time it takes for your wish to come true, or the degree of success. (i.e. Send to five people, your crush will kiss you.  Send to ten people, your crush will fall in love with you.  Send to twenty-five people, and your crush will sign an air-tight prenuptual agreement, nullifing any claims to alimony!)

6. World Records
- Only those very lucky individuals recieve this letter: Congratulations! You have been chosen to participate in the LONGEST and the LUCKIEST chain letter on the Internet! An opportunity like this is not to be passed up.  What...you miss out on what will invariably be a ground-breaking event in world history?  No sir!  Better yet, get all your freinds in on it, too.  I'm sure they'll thank you for it later.

7. Good Causes - TImmy Tupelo in Bigamy, Utah needs a new retina.  His only wish is to be able to one day read the wonderful chain letter started in his benefit, that would collect the funds needed for his surgery.  You see, for every one person you send the letter to, a penny goes toward little Timmy's new eyes.  You want Timmy to be able to see again, don't you?  Of course you do.  Now, if only those goons in Washington would wake up and realize they could pay off that nasty deficit in the same way...or maybe even feed some of those starving nations!  Chain mail truly has the potential to unite nations.

8. Amazing Animations, Cash Prizes, Gift Certificates and Other Browser Magic -These are by far my favorite chain letters of all time, because I'm amazed at their consistency to never work.  The math looks so good when it's written out:  You send this letter to all your buddies, and you'll get a check in the mail for $3,247.62!  Don't ask me how, but it'll happen!  Or as soon as you finish sending this letter to 15 or more people, a window will open with an animation of Britney Spears dancing naked!  Printable gift certificates to Old Navy and Red Lobster?  Sure, why not?  You'll know you got one of these sitting in your inbox, because it's always titled, "FWD: hey, it's worth a try."

9. Testing For Active E-Mail Accounts - Never has there been a more rediculous chain letter, or a more successful one.  The Hotmail users eat this one up!  Someone catches wind that Bill Gates himself is personally weeding out inactive e-mail accounts cluttering up his precious servers, so ya better send this warning along, or you'll be deleted!  Your e-mail account will cease to be.  You will have an ex-e-mail account.  Once this one starts going around, you can expect to recieve it at least three times in the next month.  It's hard to believe that while computers are advanced in so many ways, we still must depend on word of mouth (or type, as it were) to know when you're in danger of losing your e-mail account.  You'd think they'd make bots for those sort of things...

10. The Blatant Threat
- *WARNING* IF YOU DO NOT PASS THIS ON, SOMETHING BAD WILL HAPPEN TO YOU. If all else fails, the chain letter will resort to violence to stay alive.  It will not hesitate to fight dirty.  The chain letter will threaten to curse your love life, your luck, or even your very life.  IF this doesn't prompt you to fire the letter off to everyone in your address book, then nothing will.  After all, why risk a lifetime of fate enforced celibacy?

Ladies and gentleman, I implore you; help stamp out chain letters!  Let me be the one to tell you, that after deleting chain letter after chain letter, nothing has happened to me!  And the lull in my sex life is purely due to personal problems (with medication, I have it under control now.  Call me, ladies.) 

In an effort to help stop chain letters, please copy and paste this article and send it to 15-20 people.
The views expressed in this article may not be the veiws of the author.  If you were offended or have any complaints about the content, please do not hesitate to cry me a river.  A small baby seal was harmed in the making of this article.