This morning I got yet another "key to a miracle that will happen to me within 24 hours subject to me doing something" SMS. Its quite simple actually, a seemingly innocuous and sometimes very spiritually soaked SMS lands on your phone. Roses from our lady of Fatima, or blessings of Infant Jesus or some wishes from Hindu Gods start the message. You will be promised a miracle if you send the message to N number of persons within the next few minutes. A stern warning may follow for non believers who just delete the message.
What do you do when you get a message like that? You can choose to simply delete it as I do on most occasions. The non believers, rationalists and atheists would be thrilled to the core by this act of mine, I’m sure. Alternatively you can religiously send the message to the N number of people, make a wish if so specified and wait for the miracle to happen. I have sent many messages like this, but before you make any opinions about me, let me hasten to add that I have a 10K free message option every month in my Airtel plan and it is my ambition to send that many messages at least once. My current record with loads of junk forwards, miracle messages, blood donations, prayer requests and others stands at 6K only. So I send these messages when I have nothing better to do.
I like a certain type of forward that encourages you to say a short prayer and forward the same to others, a call to prayer is always good and I never hesitate to send them each time I get one myself. But the miracle messages, I’m sorry to say are a conspiracy which must be sponsored by the mobile phone companies themselves. If there will be someone who will gain by this mindless exercise it would be them. Its not that miracles don’t happen, a cursory look around will reveal that miracles happen every minute, but often we don’t have the time to see them. A load of cash dropping from the heavens would be the type of miracle that many will relate to, but these miracles dont happen except in soap operas.
Do people really believe that wishes are granted by sending a SMS or its earlier cousin the email forwards? The most hilarious scam however is the “my son / daughter is suffering from whateveryoumaycallitmia disease and the internet / telephone companies have pledged to give money for every time this message is forwarded to some poor soul”. Many good hearted people have done their mite to help such suffering people by dutifully forwarding these messages to all. God bless them. But has anyone ever considered the stupidity of the message, is it possible to monitor the messages that are being forwarded? Has any company actually given any money? Email forwards will have along thread where some unknown will testify to have received money from Bill Gates who is giving money away for testing his beta version of something provided you flood the cyberspace by sending the message to all your contacts. (Now Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is a champion philanthropist organization and I have huge respect for the power couple for their commitment to society). I have noticed that most of these, if not all of these recepients are firangs, you dont see a single desi winner of a few dollars maybe FEMA is active in the net. Size constraints prevent similar activities on the mobile phone else you would have long message threads on similar lines.
Recently I had 4 well meaning people (my close friends D included), sending me a SMS in the peak morning hour saying that 4 children have died in the GH Chennai for want of blood as the blood bank was unable to meet with the demand for various reasons and it called for donors to donate blood. A very noble cause indeed and as a donor I was ready to donate, but the doubting Thomas in me came to the fore. I had not seen an article in the newspaper or the TV before I left home for office so how did this message come about? I asked my friends who said they had no clue to the origin but they received the message from their friends and trusting their friends and being socially responsible they forwarded the message. I called the office of The Hindu and enquired about the SMS, they promptly checked and verified that it was a hoax. Kudos to The Hindu staff who were really responsive and called back with the information.
The moral of the story, any good thing can be abused by some narrow minded people. In this time of fear from terrorism, bombings, riots, natural calamities etc, the communication aids are the biggest assets in recovery processes. Yet they can be the cause of hysteria and fear. We all use the net, mobile and what have you, but using it responsibly we can really make a difference. Next time a junk SMS lands on your phone or an email lands in your inbox, check is it true, is it useful, is it necessary, if the answer is yes to all three you can go ahead and forward even if you are charged for the message. If the answer is no to any of the above, think for a moment is the message FUN? If the answer is yes, go ahead. (I am a champion of PJ’s and junk message forwards, I told you I’m trying for 10 K) Else delete it and go on, tomorrow you will see that when you wake up, you are living again, you are breathing well, you can see, feel, hear, touch normally. Isn’t it a miracle?